Kent Hughes not willing to risk future to sign free agents

Hughes had the opportunity to sign free agents, but the difference of opinion for term kept Hughes from bringing in anybody.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Kent Hughes was quiet during free agency, keeping his eyes on the prize for the Montreal Canadiens rebuild.

There was reportedly mutual interest between the Canadiens and free agent Johnathan Marchessault, but Marchessault was looking for term. Hughes has been adamant that he will not sacrifice the future for short-term gain, which ultimately took the wind out of the sails for a potential signing. And, while it's easy to be upset because Marchessault would have helped the team, it's equally important to remember that the prospects that are currently developing will need an opportunity soon and their elc's will be most cost effective.

Taking opportunities away from guys like Ivan Demidov, Michael Hage and even Owen Beck and Oliver Kapanen would defeat the purpose of rebuilding the team. It is important to bring in veterans with winning prowess, but removing roster spots for younger players is too costly for Hughes. With the core forwards locked up for term and the younger guys still yet to sign their entry-level deals, the Habs can afford to be patient.

The future is bright and that is why Kent Hughes is showing confidence and patience

Hughes was swooning about his two first-round selections at the 2024 NHL Draft, Demidov and Hage, and that is because they were the two players he felt were the best value where he was selecting. If there was anything more to do to prove his words were the truth, refraining from spending money on a free agent is at the top of the list. There is at least one season to wait for Demidov and with Hage, it seems likely that he is a couple of years away.

The timeline is perfect, however, since the core that is currently in Montreal will need a little time to grow together and develop chemistry. Take for example the blueline, Lane Hutson, David Reinbacher and Logan Mailloux haven't scratched the surface of their NHL potential, mostly because only two out of three have donned the Habs jersey, and it hasn't been a handful of games. Even Jordan Harris, Jayden Struble and Kaiden Guhle are still finding their way and Arber Xhekaj, the same thing.

It's easy for the fanbase to rush things and have expectations for success early on, but the truth of the matter is that a contender is built over time. The next step needs to be taken - so developing, maturing and adjusting - before expecting the team to find success when the group isn't ready. It will all come into place in due time, but being patient is the best for long-term success.