The Montreal Canadiens will not enter this upcoming season with $8 million in space under the salary cap. They definitely won’t be anywhere close to the $20 million they currently have if the salary cap tops out at $80 million.
So while the trade to acquire Max Domi from the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk was the first significant roster move of the off-season, it will not be the defining one.
And it will also not be defined by whether the Canadiens do - or more likely don’t - sign John Tavares.
There are a lot of options for Marc Bergevin this summer. Sure, he has players he can trade but the real question is how creative he gets. There’s no mystery surrounding offers made to Andrei Markov and Alex Radulov. There is no last-minute game of musical chairs after all the seats are taken. He had a whole season to figure out what he will do with the space.
He has an opportunity. The question is how he uses it. Will he use it to sign Jack Johnson? Will he use cap space to collect assets while taking on another team’s albatross? Will he take a managed approach to signing multiple players come July 1? Will he sign someone to an offer sheet? (OK, that last one is a joke).
Knowing how Bergevin has operated, it’s likely the option is something we’re not thinking of, but whatever it is, that will be how the off-season is defined, not by this one trade.
The Canadiens already had a ton of cap space going into the off-season and with this trade and subsequent contract signing of Domi they gain an additional $1.75 million.
Montreal is in a unique spot. They have an aging goaltender, a few older defencemen mixed in with some young talent, and a very young group of forwards. The Canadiens don’t have one forward over 30 years old, and the average age of their 12 expected forwards right now sits at under 25.
But the pieces of the puzzle need to fit together. Regardless of how you feel about the trade, they did not address the question at centre or the question on defence.
They have three months, $20 million, and 10 draft picks to figure it all out.