The Montreal Canadiens have announced their opening-night roster. There are 24 players remaining in the NHL, with David Schlemko being exempt from the 23-man limit after being placed on the Injured Reserve list.
That move allows for an extra defenceman to stay with the team to start, to go along with the additional defenceman the Habs have on the roster compared to the usual complement of seven. Even with nine blue-liners on the books, and Shea Weber’s contract occupying a significant chunk of the available space, the defence corps comes it at less than a third of the upper limit of $75.0 million.
Helping them achieve that is five defenders earning less than $1.5 million. Three earn less than $750,000, including 19-year-old rookie Victor Mete who actually only carries the third-cheapest deal of the corps.
The 2017-18 season is the last of the deal that pays Carey Price $6.5 million per season. Starting next year, his slice will grow by a significant amount as his eight-year, $10.5-million contract begins.
The most obvious opportunity to find the funds for that raise is from Tomas Plekanec’s expiring contract. His performance this season, which starts between two of the forwards with the greatest value on the team — Artturi Lehkonen and Charles Hudon — will determine how much his next deal with the team is worth, or even if he is re-upped at all.
The Canadiens start the season with a massive amount of available cap space. Marc Bergevin usually likes to go into a new year with about $2 million for in-season transactions, but $7.7 million is enough to add one of the league’s better players, and that value will only increase as the season goes on.
Will the general manager save the money to make several significant moves at the trade deadline, one major move partway into the new year, or decide to save it and run the club as essentially a budget franchise this season? It will be something to keep in mind tas the Canadiens play their first full year with new head coach Claude Julien and his brand new style of play.
Data via CapFriendly