The Montreal Canadiens have four restricted free agents left unsigned after extending them qualifying offers a few weeks ago. Today three of them, Artturi Lehkonen, Joel Armia, and Charles Hudon have elected for salary arbitration.
By doing so, the players are now guaranteed to have an agreement on the table before the off-season comes to an end. The players will also now be ineligible to receive or sign offer sheets from other teams.
One of the Canadiens’ own draft selections who became a regular, Lehkonen will be Marc Bergevin's top priority. However, his contract negotiation is also the one that may have the largest gap between the player’s ask and the team’s offer, both in salary and term, which could extend the process.
The team hasn’t committed the same time and resources to Armia as they have to Lehkonen. The fact that Armia has only been on the roster for one year may make Bergevin more willing to approach the scheduled date of the hearing to finalize a contract.
Charles Hudon has even less clout, having difficulty finding a lineup spot in 2018-19 after a good rookie season. Just 32 games played and five total points last season will be the numbers Bergevin sticks to in negotiations. Hudon’s camp will focus on the 30 points as a regular player in his first NHL campaign.
The full schedule of hearings will be announced once the list of players from across the league who are slated for arbitration is completed. The hearings will fall on a date in late July or early August.