A preliminary estimate announced at the Board of Governors meetings has the salary cap for next season set to rise, but not by as much as some had expected.
Cap between 71.5 ans 74.5M next season according to Gary Bettman. #tvasports— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) December 8, 2015
Anticipating that the actual number falls somewhere in the middle of that range, the above visualization was created with a $73.0 million salary cap for the Montreal Canadiens to work with.
The Canadiens already have several key pieces under contract for next season including two goaltenders, six defencemen, and six players (if you include Brian Flynn) capable of playing the centre position.
That means that the projected $12 million of left over cap space will mostly be needed to add wingers to the roster (plus one extra defenceman).
Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher are qualified top-line wingers, and one of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, or David Desharnais will play the wing on the second line. So, essentially, the Habs have four bottom-six players and one second-line scorer to add for next season.
Several candidates from this year's team could be brought back to occupy those roles. Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann, and Paul Byron are all headed toward unrestricted free agency at the end of the season and could receive extensions to return. Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr, and Christian Thomas, all currently up with the NHL club, are taking advantage of the Habs' injury situation to perform live auditions in the final year of their contracted term. Michael McCarron and the recently-recalled Charles Hudon, both already under contract for next season, are viable candidates, as well.
Any combination of those internal options should cost significantly less than the approximately $12 million available, so a position upgrade via trade will also be a possibility.
More information on contract details is available at:
A public Google spreadsheet containing this cap info and the charts these visualizations are based upon is available here.