Projecting which restricted free agents will return to the Canadiens in 2024-25

The Montreal Canadiens have quite a few restricted free agents in the system, so who is bound to return next season and even potentially spend time with the big club?
Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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As a younger organization, the Montreal Canadiens will have quite a few pending restricted free agents for the 2024 offseason. This won’t be the final season that we see so many RFAs in the system, as 2025 is also shaping up to be an offseason that will force general manager Kent Hughes to make some decisions about which younger players deserve to stay in the system and who he should let walk. 

The players on this list comprise a few the Canadiens have seen at the NHL level, and some have fared well while others haven’t performed so hotly. But thanks to their overall youth, just because their initial NHL stint didn’t go as planned, it doesn’t mean they didn’t show enough potential to at least get another look. 

Each player listed below and in the upcoming sides are currently on six-figure salaries, so Holland will easily fit anyone he wants back into the system even if the current projected cap space doesn’t look promising. It’s also important to know that those who will spend most of their time in the AHL won’t count against the cap since their expected salaries wouldn’t result in a “buried cap penalty” when they are assigned to the lower league. 

So, who should receive an extension, and which players should Hughes allow to continue their respective careers elsewhere? Let’s start with a pair of players who have spent most of their time in the AHL.  

Arnaud Durandeau is another RFA who has seen time in the NHL

Traded to the Canadiens in March, Arnaud Durandeau has a minute sample size in the NHL, as the former sixth-round pick spent time with the New York Islanders for four games. This came after he not only saw time in the AHL, but also the ECHL, so to continually move up is a testament to his work ethic. 

But there isn’t much to get excited about since it looks like Durandeau has hit his ceiling. He’s also been part of three AHL teams this season, having spent time with the Bridgeport Islanders and the Utica Comets before he made his way to Laval. He was a trade acquisition, so Durandeau will likely stick around, but he’s nothing more than organizational depth. 

Mattias Norlinder could return as he hones his North American game

The Canadiens drafted Mattias Norlinder in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft, and he’s seen six games of action with the Canadiens, logging an assist during his initial trial. He hasn’t been part of the big club since, but Norlinder is about to finish just his second full season with the Rocket. 

With just two full campaigns in North America, the stay-at-home blueliner should get a qualifying offer and continue to develop his game in Laval. This isn’t to say he will never make the big club, as he’s not among the top defensemen in the prospects pool, but that doesn’t mean he can’t create decent organizational depth.