Kent Hughes will be in his first free agent market as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens starting July 13, having previously held the role of player agent. Will he be able to take advantage of his vast contacts within the hockey world?
Remember, before succeeding Marc Bergevin, Hughes represented several big names on the Bettman circuit: Patrice Bergeron, Kristopher Letang, and Anthony Beauvillier, among others.
Although the connection is easy to make between the new Habs staff and future unrestricted free agents; Patrice Bergeron and Kristopher Letang, let’s face it, home runs will be tough for the duo of Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton, who have projected salary-cap space of just under $2 million. It is meager, very meager to allow oneself to dream!
Bleu-Blanc-Rouge supporters, which means we’ll have to forget about Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel, Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Nazem Kadri, Ondrej Palat and company who will be free as air, less than a turn important, in other words, a transaction that would free up a lot of money. Very unlikely scenario.
In this regard, here are eight candidates who have the potential to join the ranks of Sainte-Flanelle. These are listed in order from most likely to least likely. For the sake of practice, here is Martin St-Louis’ projected lineup for next season.
: Jonathan Drouin – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
: Mike Hoffman, Rem Pitlick, Josh Anderson
: Evgenii Dadonov – Christian Dvorak – Brendan Gallagher
: Paul Byron – Jake Evans – Joel Armia
: Michael Pezzetta – Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Jesse Ylonen – Ryan Poehling
: Joel Edmundson-Jeff Petry
: Alexander Romanov-David Savard
:X – Justin Barron
: Chris Wideman – Jordan Harris – Kaiden Guhle – Corey Schueneman – Mattias Norlinder
PK Subban / 33 years old / 77PJ 5B 17A 22PTS / $9,000,000 M
Although PK Subban has slowed down a lot in recent seasons, his wealth of experience could definitely help the young defensemen in the organization. Ideally, he would be in the fifth or sixth back seat who can still do well on the power play.
That is, in a role similar to that of Chris Wideman. For a salary of around a million dollars, and this, for a single season, is worth thinking about. This signing would also allow Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris and Mattias Norlinder to hone their game in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Laval Rocket.
Nikita Zadorov / 27 years old / 74PJ 4B 18A 22PTS / $3.75 million
In the case of Nikita Zadorov, his impressive 6-foot-6 height and 235 pounds coupled with his robust playing style would make Montreal’s defensive squad a physically formidable team. His presence would lighten and facilitate the solid contribution of Alexander Romanov, who would find himself less alone in this field. Considering the presence of a healthy Joel Edmundson, this signing would compensate for the loss of Ben Chiarot and recreate the identity that the Habs’ defense had during their impressive epic 2020-2021 season.
Andreas Athanasiou / 27 years old / 28PJ 11B 6A 17PTS / $2.7 million
Andrea Athanasiou represents in a certain way the bet all or nothing. The electrifying merchant of speed is capable of the best offensively and the worst defensively. It is primarily in terms of its dynamism and speed that the attacker would make the CH a “low” cost upgraded team. Capable of evolving both in the center and in the band, his versatility would be an additional asset.
The one who already reached the plateau of 30 goals with the Red Wings in 2018-2019 could also complete the duo of Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, in addition to providing a touch of speed that the Gallagher and Dvorak of the team lack, for example. Athanasiou represents one of the candidates if not the one with the best report likely talent/commissioned salary of this free agent market.
Nick Leddy / 31 years old / 75PJ 3B 21A 24PTS / $5.5 million
The top quality prospects belonging to the Canadiens play defense. You will have to supervise them properly and be patient. The arrival of an established and mobile defender with Nick Leddy helped the CH transition age who was deficient in the dernier and offended by a supplementary latitude to the pilot Martin St-Louis, because Leddy peut évoluer autant à la gauche qu’à the right.
Finally, the defense has 130 postseason games and a Stanley Cup under its belt, an added value if the two clans can find common ground for a short-term contract.
Mason Marchment / 27 years old / 54PJ 18B 29A 47PTS / $800 billion
Mason Marchment’s record differs from nearly all future free agents. Never drafted, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound power forward had a thunderous season that could be described as a breakout season, primarily in terms of his offensive production, claiming nearly 20 goals and 50 points. After spending six seasons in the minors, Marchment came to the Florida Panthers.
The Florida organization will have some big decisions to make this summer and may have to sacrifice Ontario because of the salary cap. It remains to be seen what kind of contract the son of former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman Bryan will want. If the duration and amount are reasonable, the HC will have to assess if the last campaign was a showcase, or if it is a disappearing style of player to be repatriated to Montreal.
Evan Rodrigues / 28 years old / 82PJ 19B 24P 43PTS / $1,000,000 M
The name of Evan Rodrigues often goes unnoticed. Never drafted, the lightning wrist release has finally made his mark with the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, scoring 19 goals and 43 points.
Rodrigues, line mate of a certain Jack Eichel in the American university program has maintained a production of 0.40 points per game since his debut on the Bettman circuit in 316 games played. Skilled skater, dynamic offensively and versatile as he can be inserted both in the center and in the band, the native of Toronto has the talent to evolve in a ”top 6when necessary and can add an offensive touch to a deep trio.
Due to the large number of attackers under one-way contract with Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, it could interest the club once a transaction is completed, for example.
Vincent Trocheck / 28 years old / 81PJ 21B 30A 51PTS / $4.75 million
If it were a matter of realism for this exercise of players to target for the Habs, Vincent Trocheck is not the ideal candidate for the salary that he will be awarded. On the other hand, the second floor must find a way to enchant it. Why? Since the speed skater would fill the hole in the second position of center caused by the departure of Phillip Danault last summer.
The center position is usually the most coveted and there are few quality free players. The 378-point scorer in 555 career games has the assets sought by the Hughes, Gorton and St-Louis clan, namely speed, hockey smarts and dynamism, as mentioned when they were hired. A core lineup of Nick Suzuki, Vincent Trocheck, Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Marc-André Fleury / 37 years old / 56PJ 28V 23D %.908 AVERAGE: 2.90 / $7,000,000 M
Will Carey Price return next season? Will she not come back? Impossible to answer at the moment. Despite a more than satisfactory performance by the young goalkeeper Cayden Primeau with the Laval Rocket during the AHL playoffs, the squad will have to assess the possibility of adding a goalkeeper to their ranks in case the number 31 does not return.
For one season, the time to allow Primeau to build up as much experience as possible before taking the plunge, Quebecois Marc-André Fleury becomes an oddly interesting contender. Despite the 37 years of him, the goalkeeper offered performances worthy of the goalkeeper who is to the benefit of the Blackhawks and the Wild. Why not finish a great race at home in front of family and friends, in a duo positioning him alongside Jake Allen?
It will continue from July 13 during the special broadcast presented on the airwaves of VAT Sports.
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