** An updated version of this graphic that includes the Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov, and Daniel Carr contracts is available here. **
After some concerns near the tail end of the season that the cap would go down next year, and speculation during the playoffs that the cap number would remain the same, yesterday it was announced that the final decision was a small increase: from the $71.4 million of last year to $73 million for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
The players decided to use the full amount of their inflator (5%) to raise what would have otherwise been a drop in available cap funds: to about $69.5 million. The raise in the cap reduces the pressure on a few teams who were over the limit, though there are still a few dire situations around the league.
The Montreal Canadiens have all of their core players already signed for the next year, with Carey Price, P.K. Subban, and Max Pacioretty among the players with roster spots secured, though the first of those pacts is alarmingly close to its expiration date.
The recent extension of Mark Barberio’s contract gives Montreal seven defencemen under contract, and they won’t need to sign any more for the season.
I included Mike Condon over Charlie Lindgren not only because he’s the more experienced of the two backup goaltender options, but also because he’s the cheaper one. Lindgren’s entry-level deal signed late last season carries the maximum cap cost of $925,000, while Condon is slated to take up just $575,000. If the goal is to have as much wiggle as possible during the season, Condon is the front-runner to serve as Price’s number two.
The forward position will be the main area of focus for management this summer. Artturi Lehkonen is not a guarantee to make the roster, but since Bergevin signed him knowing he’d return to Sweden if he doesn’t make the team (a commitment he was already contractually obligated to), he will be given a fair look at training camp.
Some of the the players included may find themselves on a another NHL team or demoted to the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s come October, a player like Charles Hudon may earn a promotion, and Daniel Carr and/or Phillip Danault may be re-upped in the coming days, but the above chart is a representation of the roster as it currently stands.
With the players shown, the Habs need to add two more forwards to the roster, and right now are projected to have $8.2 million of cap funds available. That’s lots of space to place a significant offer on the table for one of the summer’s high-profile free agents. Factor in a trade or two, and the Canadiens could have enough room to add an elite talent to the organization.
It’s no secret that Montreal has been in desperate need of a goal-scoring winger for quite some time. This summer, the team has the means to rectify that organizational weakness.