Operating under the most recent projection of a $71 million salary cap, the Montreal Canadiens currently have approximately $7.3 million of space after yesterday's signing of Jeff Petry. Those remaining cap funds will be used to add an additional six players to the 23-man roster for the 2015-16 season.
The five defencemen included in the visualization above occupy 40% of the total available salary cap space for the upcoming season, with two-to-three more defenders to add to the mix. Greg Pateryn, who has one year left on his contract, could be one of those players, while restricted free agents Nathan Beaulieu (virtually guaranteed) and Jarred Tinordi (less certain) are the other front runners to fill out the defence corps. With just one year of term remaining on his contract, Tom Gilbert could be a piece in play this off-season to free up both cap space and a roster spot for one of those young defenders.
That leaves three or four (depending on whether the Canadiens go with eight or seven defencemen) forward positions to be filled. Restricted free agent Alex Galchenyuk will be one of those players, while other RFAs in the system like Brian Flynn, Christian Thomas, and Michaël Bournival could also fill the ranks, though those players will be battling with Sven Andrighetto and AHL-rookie-standout Charles Hudon — both already under contract for next season — for spots in training camp.
Brendan Gallagher's new deal will duke it out with that of Max Pacioretty for the title of best contract for the Montreal Canadiens over the next few seasons. Having perhaps the two highest-production forwards vying for that title can only be seen as a positive for fans of the team.
With his $5.5 million cap hit, Jeff Petry is ranked as the third-highest earner on defence behind P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov. Those three defencemen each have a higher cap hit than any forward on the team. It's also worth noting that, despite the difference in average annual values for the players' contracts, Petry and Subban are each set to earn $7 million in salary during the 2015-16 campaign.
More information on contract details is available at General Fanager.
A public Google spreadsheet containing this cap info and the charts these visualizations are based upon is available here.