One pending free agent the Canadiens can steal from their Atlantic Division rivals

The Montreal Canadiens could have some holes to fill in their lineup next season, so there is a chance they add a few players from the outside.

Oct 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Max Domi (11) battles for  the puck
Oct 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Max Domi (11) battles for the puck / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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Keeping the Montreal Canadiens rebuilding plan and smaller amount of cap space in mind, it’s tough to see them bringing in a prize free agent in 2024-25. But lengthening the window of opportunity as wide as possible is the goal for general manager Kent Hughes, so bringing in a top-end free agent this summer or a trade piece that will get fans talking shouldn’t be his top priority. 

Instead, Hughes - and the Canadiens fan base - should be more than fine with bringing in under-the-radar players who can either fill the lower lines and pairings or provide organizational depth. With just a few current Canadiens slated to be free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, there is a good chance the Habs lineup will look similar to what we have seen this season. 

But if he moves a few players around, there will be some openings, and that may warrant Hughes to sign a pending unrestricted free agent or two from elsewhere. So what if ‘elsewhere’ meant a familiar face from the Atlantic Division? Here are seven players he could bring in as one-year stopgaps. 

Danton Heinen, Forward/Boston Bruins

As mentioned above, don’t expect many big names on this list, and Danton Heinen is one good example. But he also hasn’t put up half-bad numbers lately, judging from his 15 goals and 30 points in 67 games. No, these aren’t anywhere near all-star stats, but they show us that Heinen would still make for an outstanding contributor on a team’s bottom-six, even one that is rebuilding, should the Boston Bruins decide to move on from him. 

Heinen, who has averaged 14:19 of average total ice time this season, has also shown he could even climb onto middle-six should injuries strike his next team, whether that’s the Canadiens or someone else. 

He would also bring more defense to Montreal and an edge, judging from his 75 hits and 31 takeaways. And it seems like the older Heinen gets, the more of an edge he possesses. For a team in transition like Montreal, he would definitely add more physicality to a team that has logged a solid but unspectacular 21.8 hits per game.