Montreal Canadiens: Gauging The Right Time To Sign Big Fish

Montreal Canadiens Introduce Kent Hughes
Montreal Canadiens Introduce Kent Hughes / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens are in a spot where they’re playing much better than expected, so naturally the free-agent route has been questioned.

Personally I think it would be unwise to believe there won’t be growing pains. It’s an 82-game schedule, and things change throughout the season. I would think that the Canadiens are more likely to sell high on some players. They will not bring in a big fish yet.

There are a lot of question marks and a lot of bodies that are inching close to a roster spot. Joshua Roy, Filip Mesar and Emil Heineman are three guys that could help the Canadiens offence. In terms of balancing the chequebook, it’s wise to bring up the young players and let them develop. 

Bringing in a free agent at this point isn’t very attractive to the player. Until the Canadiens are a close bet to make the playoffs, not squeaking in as a wildcard, then the conversation can be had. But they aren’t there yet, and saving the coin for their players makes the most sense right now. 

Many players that will be pushing to make the Habs over the next two seasons. If you consider the fact that the Canadiens also have a first-round pick for the 2024 Draft, and the assets to acquire another. With his picks in hand, Kent Hughes isn’t likely to overspend on a shiny toy just yet.

Give it until the core has some sustained time together, then reassess things. Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook are injured, Roy hasn’t quite hit his stride yet, and Emil Heineman hasn’t played. There are also David Reinbacher and Lane Hutson who will look to join the Habs in 2024.

The fact of the matter is, that Hughes has an embarrassment of riches and he is very patient. The brilliance of Hughes starts with his communication skills and his knowledge of the league. When he is ready he strikes, almost always coming out of a trade with a great piece for the future. 

Right now the iron is not hot, so Hughes isn’t likely to sign a big fish just yet. And I don’t feel it likely until the end of the 2024-25 season to give the team a huge boost at the beginning of the 2025-26 campaign. 

Why not wait right until the Canadiens are on pace to secure a playoff spot, and their young core has a bit of exprience and chemistry playing together. Then a free agent might be persuaded to sign with Montreal. It can't be forgotten, that a player likely to make a big decision would like to know he will be in the playoffs as often as possible.