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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Justin Barron has shown encouraging returns in his NHL trials

No, Justin Barron hasn’t managed to stick with the Canadiens lineup on a full-time basis, but he’s played well enough to warrant consideration. Barron is still just 22, and he’s seen 80 games with the Canadiens over the past two seasons and 85 total. He has 27 points and 10 goals over the past two years, plus a respectable 17:35 of average total ice time, 101 hits, and 89 blocks. 

The latter two numbers show us that Barron, at worst, could wind up as a bruiser on the third-pairing, but he has also shown the potential to eventually evolve into a well-rounded player. He’s seen more action on special teams, and his 5-on-5 numbers weren’t awful this year - 47.2 Corsi For percentage, 23 on-ice goals for, 24 allowed, and a 92.4 on-ice save percentage. 

His xGF and xGA at even strength also landed within one goal of his actual on-ice goals for and goals allowed at even strength, and his possession quality improved from minus-6.7 to minus-1.3. 

Overall, inconsistencies explain why he’s still spending time in Laval instead of Montreal sans a recent promotion, but his overall performance has been trending upward lately. Given his youth, the time he’s spent in the NHL, and the fact his game has grown, there is no way Kent Hughes won’t extend a qualifying offer.