One pending unrestricted free agent the Canadiens can steal from each team in the Metropolitan Division

The Montreal Canadiens can improve their team with a few stopgaps if they look outside the Atlantic Division when free agency rolls around in July.
Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The Montreal Canadiens could theoretically go about free agency 2024 without signing anyone new to the current lineup, call up prospects, and roll with one of the league’s youngest groups, if not the youngest. With little cap space prior to factoring in LTIR, such moves would make sense, but that would also come with risking the element of competition and organizational depth. 

That wouldn’t be ideal for a group even if they didn’t plan on keeping players brought in from other organizations long-term. Looking at the Metropolitan Division’s eight teams and their pending unrestricted free agents, lower-liners, third-pairing defensemen, and players who could willingly supply organizational depth, there are quite a few solid names slated to enter free agency in 2024. 

It wouldn’t be a bad idea for general manager Kent Hughes to at least consider some of these players, and each team in the Metro has at least one who will benefit the Habs. Let’s explore eight candidates, none of whom are huge names, who would make for solid, one-year free agent signings. 

Stefan Noesen would bring an edge and moderate productivity

Stefan Noesen could have a Stanley Cup added to his resume over a month from now, and that experience alone would give Kent Hughes plenty of reason to sign a veteran who has over 365 games of experience at the NHL level. Noesen finished the year with a career-high in points and goals, but next to experience, physical play is a prime reason for the Habs to sign someone like the 31-year-old. 

He isn’t a flashy name, much like many on this list, but that’s not a bad thing if you’re the Canadiens. With a strong prospects pool, Kent Hughes must focus on signing talent that won’t hold back prospects, and Noesen is one of those players. The difference, however, is that he can provide quality play in the meantime. 

Brendan Gaunce could bring insurance, experience to Quebec

Much like Noesen, Brendan Gaunce is the kind of player who won’t keep any would-be young NHLer down in the minors for long. He won’t put up points with the Canadiens should Hughes bring someone like him in, but he would be great for winning faceoffs in the defensive zone and adding an intimidation factor. 

Also, like Noesen, Gaunce won’t demand a large or even a lengthy contract, and he’s also someone who would understand his role as a stopgap. If injuries strike the Habs for any reason, Gaunce also has enough experience to step in and provide a serviceable effort on the lower lines.