clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A visualization of the Montreal Canadiens' salary cap situation after the opening day of free agency

New, comments

The Canadiens started the day with a large amount of available funds, and made some smart and surprising moves with their cap space.

Justin Blades/Eyes on the Prize

2016-17 Salary cap viz (20160701 + Weber +Radulov +Carr)

click to enlarge

After the controversial trade of P.K. Subban in exchange for Shea Weber on Wednesday, Marc Bergevin got back to business on the first day of the 2016 free agency period.

Weber's contract carries a cap hit of just under $8 million, and will do so for the next 10 years, paying Weber until the age of 40. It's a massive deal, even larger than the one Subban earned that caused so much consternation in the summer of 2014.

A report came out before the new season had officially begun that the Montreal Canadiens had signed Alexander Radulov, but it wasn't until later in the day that the organization made it official. Some analysts mocked the deal for being too expensive a commitment for a player who walked away from his last binding contract. However, the Canadiens had lots of space available, and, as a one-year agreement, the actual dollar amount is of little consequence. If Radulov can put up the offence he's shown to be capable of, it could end up being the best deal signed on the day.

Radulov is currently projected to hold the second-highest cap hit among forwards, more than captain Max Pacioretty will earn, but less than the raise Tomas Plekanec received on a two-year extension partway through the 2015-16 season.

The Canadiens added a few more players who aren't shown above. Backup goaltender Al Montoya was brought in, and may well steal Mike Condon's spot at training camp thanks to his status as a veteran, and could be seen as a better team option for a position that (hopefully) won't require him to play much actual hockey. Condon is the incumbent, and the cheapest option, so he earns the spot on the current projection.

Like last year, the team also added some depth on defence, this time on the right side with the acquisition of Zach Redmond, previously of the Colorado Avalanche. The Canadiens will hope for a similar path as they saw from Mark Barberio after his addition to the organization last summer.

Daniel Carr, who had received a qualifying offer to ensure his rights were retained when his contract expired, signed a mutually beneficial two-year, one-way contract. The $725,000 amount is a very small portion of the cap space for 2016-17, but Carr will earn every cent of it, even if he gets assigned to the minors. That gives the team more flexibility in the cap and security if waivers are required to shuffle the roster, and Carr gets the most stability he's ever experienced in his hockey career.

The above chart comprises an entire 23-man roster, so no further moves need to be made ahead of the start of the season, though the Habs do still have an outstanding restricted free agent who has received a qualifying offer: Phillip Danault. He will probably be on the roster come October, which means one of the players in the current projection will need to be moved to another NHL team or to the AHL affiliate in St. John's.

After all was said and done, the Canadiens were left with about $2.5 million of cap space. That's probably not enough to go after one of the mid-range free agents still on the board, but could be a significant cushion if a trade for a player with a higher salary than what the Habs are giving up is in the offing. At the very least, it's a nice bit of savings to carry into the season for emergency signing situations, or to have at the trade deadline to bring in another big name for a playoff run.