The sun is rising on a new chapter of the Montreal Canadiens' rich history, and a wind of change brings hope and excitement to a season which, let's say it like it is, has been rather sombre so far. Just recently, after the announcement of the firing of Marc Bergevin, Trevor Timmins and Paul Wilson, and the resignation of Scott Mellanby, I wrote a piece about the legacy left by Bergevin and his management group. In it, we tackled the Canadiens' record, its draft rankings, his most notable trades as well as his biggest mistakes, amongst other things.
When my good friends at Habs Tonight, my newfound family, asked me if I could write a piece about Bergevin, I had to think of a different approach than what I had already taken. So in this one, we'll be tackling what Bergevin and his group are leaving the Canadiens' new management team to work with, good or bad. Between the two pieces, you will have one of the most detailed and complete picture of Bergevin's nine plus years reign available out there on the internet. To make things easier, let's break it into several categories.
As it stands at the time of writing this, the Canadiens sit at just under $92 million of projected cap hit, with about $10.5 million of projected LTIR used. This according to Capfriendly.com. So cap space, as it stands today, is at a premium in Montreal. They also have a projected cap hit of $84 million for next season. After this season, they still have $833,333 of cap space reserved for the buyout of Karl Alzner for two more seasons.
Bergevin, much like Peter Chiarelli in Boston, then in Edmonton, didn't leave much wiggle room for his successor. He likely had a plan, but that's gone with him. It will be to Jeff Gorton and the new GM to figure out.
Long term contracts
Bergevin has signed a few players he felt were his core to long term contracts. Of course, if those players don't figure in the new management's long term plans, those can become problematic. For the sake of argument, let's set 2024-25 as end date as an arbitrary time to be considered "long term". Here they are, in order of cap hit.
Carey Price: $10.5M until 2025-26
Nick Suzuki: $7.88M until 2029-30
Shea Weber: $7.86M until 2025-26
Brendan Gallagher: $6.5M until 2026-27
Jeff Petry: $6.25M until 2024-25
Josh Anderson: $5.5M until 2026-27
Mike Hoffman: $4.5M until 2024-25
Christian Dvorak: $4.45M until 2024-25
David Savard: $3.5M until 2024-25
Joel Armia: $3.4M until 2024-25
Pending free agents Here are the players scheduled to become free agents on July first, both unrestricted and restricted, including those in the minors. Also included is their salary at the NHL level. UFA:
Ben Chiarot: $3.5M
Brett Kulak: $1.85M
Mathieu Perreault: $950,000
Cédric Paquette: $950,000
Chris Wideman: $750,000
Jean-Sébastien Dea: $750,000
Laurent Dauphin: $750,000
Alex Belzile: $750,000
Brandon Baddock: $750,000
Xavier Ouellet: $737,500
Artturi Lehkonen: $2.3M
Alexander Romanov: $894,167
Cayden Primeau: $880,833
Josh Brook: $795,000
Arsen Khisamutdinov: $795,000
Joël Teasdale: $763,333
Michael Pezzetta: $750,000
Sami Niku: $750,000
Samuel Montembeault: $750,000
Lukas Vejdemo: $750,000
Louis Belpedio: $750,000
Corey Schueneman: $750,000
Michael McNiven: $750,000
Prospect Pool While the Draft success was heavily criticized under Bergevin and mostly Trevor Timmins, the 2018 reset and new focus on player development seems to have vastly improved, although results should be felt in the next couple of years.
For example, Joshua Roy, Xavier Simoneau and Riley Kidney are all amongst the top scorers in the QMJHL. Kaiden Guhle, who looks like he will be traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings, is a shoe-in for Team Canada Junior as it was confirmed that he and Roy were invited to camp. Ylönen is having a good season in Laval while several NCAA players are amongst the best in College hockey. You can see all of the Canadiens prospects as well as their up to date stats on Elite Prospects.
As you will notice on the link provided above, many of those young men are doing extremely well in their respective leagues, a clear sign of the potential and quality in the current prospect pool. If there's one thing that this Bergevin regime seems to have done well, it's drafting since the reset. The new management does have a very solid base to start building on.
2022 Draft The NHL Draft will be held in Montreal on Thursday July 7 and Friday July 8, 2022. The Canadiens received the Carolina Hurricanes' first round pick as part of the compensation for not matching the offer-sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi. They did however trade a first round pick to the Arizona Coyotes to acquire Christian Dvorak. Whether the Coyotes receive the Canadiens or the Hurricanes' pick has yet to be determine, as Bergevin was smart enough to have the picks top-10 protected. If both picks are outside the top-10 selections, Arizona will get the lowest of the picks, which should be Montreal's the way the season is going. But if one (or both) of the picks are in the top-10, the Canadiens will keep the lowest pick and the Coyotes will get the other, a more likely scenario at this point.
So there you have it folks, a picture of what the Habs' new management was left with by the Bergevin regime of nine plus years. As you can see, a full rebuild is likely not necessary as the former management group had started a reset, keeping its picks and focussing on drafting and development since 2018. The new group's biggest challenge will be to decide which veterans to keep as a core, and to provide themselves some breathing room under the salary cap.