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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Kyle Okposo, Forward/Florida Panthers

If the Canadiens want to add a true leader to their locker room next season, Kyle Okposo should be the top choice among affordable pending unrestricted free agents. He may finally win a Stanley Cup in Florida and retire, but if that isn’t the case, then the Canadiens and every other young team in the league need to at least extend an offer to one of the NHL’s most respected players. 

In 2024-25, Okposo doesn’t need to be a captain, and he can even factor in as a 13th or 14th forward, so he’s not getting in front of anyone still in the Habs system who could graduate to the NHL. Further, Okposo is still good enough of a player to be a fourth-liner and take up a spot in the lineup if a prospect isn’t ready to move up. 

Over the final three seasons in Buffalo, Okposo’s on-ice save percentage at 5-on-5 sat at 91.9 or higher, and this season, he was on the ice for more goals for than goals against. He’s still a player who will record over 50 percent in the Corsi, and at even strength, he was on the ice for just 23 goals against, despite an xGA of 27.8.