Where Has Free Agency Left The Montreal Canadiens?
As Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving said, there was a time when GMs were basically done with free agency when the shopping window opened, the big names were signed, then everyone headed to the cottage.
The salary cap hasn’t gone up that much over the past few years – it’s at $83.5 million for the upcoming season – and that has forced players to take shorter-term deals. It also has forced general managers to get more creative in how they shape their rosters.
Betting Odds On A Montreal Title
Montreal is not expected to compete for a Stanley Cup title this upcoming season, but a playoff berth would be a big step forward.
Currently, BetMGM has the Canadiens among the teams with the longest odds to win a championship, including the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes,. The Habs are at 151.00 to win the title and 81.00 to finish first in the Eastern Conference.
The odds vary, though, at different sportsbooks, where those interesting in NHL betting can find options. Bet365 has Montreal at 101.00, while PointsBet has the Habs at 126.00.
Habs Show Signs Of Improvement
The Canadiens had the fifth-worst record in the NHL last season, but most people would agree they have improved their roster this off season so far.
They’re healthier, for one thing. Last season, the Habs had a lot of players out with injuries.
And the team has some nice core pieces locked down long term – captain C Nick Suzuki, at $7.875 million per year. is signed through 2029-'30, and LW Cole Caulfied, at $7.85 million, is signed through 2030-'31.
RW Brendan Gallagher, who has had ankle issues, and C Sean Monahan, with previous hip and groin concerns, are healthy and back in the lineup.
The Habs also were able to trade D Joel Edmundson to the Washington Capitals recently, but Montreal still has to eat half his $3.5 million salary.
One question is whether 26-year-old G Samuel Montembeault (16-19-3, 3.42 GAA, .901 save percentage last season) is the answer in net for Montreal. G Jake Allen is still there, with two more years on his contract, at $3.85 million per season.
And what about last summer’s top overall pick, LW Juraj Slafkovsky? At four goals and six assists in 39 games last season, playing just over 12 minutes per night, it might be better if he starts next season in the American Hockey League.
With the off season that never ends, it remains to be seen whether the Habs will be able to deal RW Joel Armia, who's making $3.4 million this season, or C Christian Dvorak, set to earn $4.45 million (two more years on both those contracts). The team will have to eat part of those salaries, but having them out of the way could open more playing time to the younger core.
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