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Montreal Canadiens offseason checklist

Marc Bergevin will be busy this summer with a bevy of crucial decisions to make

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Attempt to re-sign Jeff Petry at all costs

No, he won't come cheap, and yes, he will have plenty of good offers throughout the league as one of the best unrestricted free agents on the market, but the fact of the matter is that Petry has quickly become an indispensable member of the defensive core. Expect him to sign a rather healthy contract this summer, somewhere in the $5M+ per year range.

Andrei Markov isn't getting any younger, and until Nathan Beaulieu is ready to absorb some top pairing minutes, the Habs will definitely need a player like Petry to add mobility, speed, and an offensive presence to the back end.

Beaulieu's contract

As is the case with Galchenyuk, Beaulieu is a restricted free agent. it wouldn't be a terrible idea to gamble with a long-term contract that costs a little more initially, but banks on Beaulieu improving to the point that it's a bargain by the end of it. Ideally, Beaulieu will be part a youth movement that will take over the Habs' blue line. That movement will hopefully involve Petry, who's in his prime, Jarred Tinordi, whenever he's ready, possibly Greg Pateryn or Magnus Nygren, and of course, that Norris candidate.

Navigate the salary cap

if the cap does indeed rise to 71.5M next season, Montreal will have roughly $14.5M in space, which will mostly be gobbled up by the Beaulieu and Galchenyuk extensions, and possibly the Petry signing. That being said, he still has plenty of options available to clear some space. Even though Montreal lacks firepower up front, don't be surprised if P.A. Parenteau is shipped out this summer, seeing as he doesn't appear to be one of Michel Therrien's favourite players. There's also the possibility of moving either David Desharnais or Alexei Emelin, although neither player will fetch much on the market, and it's doubtful that they could be traded without retaining or re-acquiring salary in the deal.

Either way, Bergevin won't necessarily need to pinch every penny, but he won't have any margin for error when it comes to handing out contracts.  He can alleviate some of the cap constraint by promoting players like Charles Hudon, or Sven Andrighetto.

The coach

I don't think the question should be whether or not Michel Therrien is a good coach, we've discussed that at length, and frankly there's nothing left to say on the subject.

However, Bergevin needs to decide whether or not Therrien is the coach that can bring the Habs to the next level. There's no more 'transition years' excuse to hide behind, Montreal's Stanley Cup window is ready to open. Thanks to some fantastic drafting, there is a plethora of quality players about to hit their prime years. You absolutely cannot afford to waste the prime years of the team's best players. I'm not saying Bergevin should fire the current coach, but inactivity in that department means that Bergevin will tie his Habs legacy into Therrien's tenure.

He'll need to think long and hard as to whether or not that's the best approach for bringing this team to the promised land. Perhaps he needs to reevaluate the roster he put together, because logic dictates that if it's not the coach's system that's producing such terrible possession numbers and scoring woes throughout the season, it has to be from a lack of talent.

Resolve the Galchenyuk situation

Unlike Brendan Gallagher, who signed a long-term deal, Galchenyuk will probably get the bridge contract treatment. Regardless of what type of contract he signs, it has to be said that the worry surrounding the young sniper has been blown out of proportion. He's coming off a 20-goal season, and he's produced more NHL points than every player in his draft class by a rather large margin.

It's probably time to take off the kid gloves in his case. He was drafted as a centre, and despite Montreal's depth in that category they're still missing a true elite player to compliment Max Pacioretty.  It could be wise to let him have a go at the #1 spot for the majority of the upcoming season.

(It's worth noting that the fantastic Marc Antoine Godin wrote a similar piece yesterday, and even though both articles cover some of the same subject matter Marc Antoine's piece is well-worth a read).