On Saturday afternoon, a few days ahead of the deadline to extend qualifying offers to pending restricted free agents, the Montreal Canadiens took steps to retain the rights of five of the eight players in question.
The Canadiens have submitted qualifying offers to the following five players:— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) October 3, 2020
▪️ Max Domi
▪️ Charles Hudon
▪️ Victor Mete
▪️ Xavier Ouellet
▪️ Noah Juulsenhttps://t.co/pTDJ5HzV1P
The list includes obvious choices like Max Domi and Victor Mete, who spent the entire 2019-20 season in the NHL. Charles Hudon and Xavier Ouellet played games in the post-season, and still have value to the organization (even if Hudon’s is as a trade piece, according to a recent report). And Noah Juulsen, who missed much of the season with an eye issue, is still well in the mix for an NHL role in the future. The 2015 first-round pick will be hoping to resume his path toward that goal in 2020-21.
Three players were left without qualifying offers, and will become unrestricted free agents on October 9.
Aaron Luchuk and Andrew Sturtz, both acquired via trade at the start of 2020, made little impact with the organization in their time. Luchuk played just two games for the Laval Rocket, while Sturtz played none.
Antoine Waked is the only player initially signed by Montreal to go unqualified. He was inked to an entry-level contract after a strong 2016-17 season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, but his best season in Laval was his first, with just 11 points, and he slipped down a replacement-level player for the rest of his term. With several new prospects making their way to the AHL team, he was unlikely to reprise that role next year.
What the Canadiens do with the qualified players remains to be seen. We could get a better idea of the plan after some trading at the draft next week, or see what the organization has in store for the NHL club going forward when free agency begins.