Drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, Matt Bradley will no longer be part of the organization, as his rights with the Habs expired without a contract getting signed by 5 pm today.
The Habs had two years from the time Bradley was drafted to sign him to an entry-level contract and chose not to do so, turning their attention elsewhere, such as undrafted forwards Antoine Waked and Markus Eisenschmid.
This isn’t too big of a surprise in the grand scheme of things, as we looked at his case back in February, and although there was a slight inclination to offer him a contract back then, it wasn’t a strong or definitive “yes”. Reasons included concern that his numbers were being inflated as part of a strong Medicine Hat Tigers team, Bradley only being part of the secondary scoring, and struggling during the power play time he was given.
He also struggled with poorly-timed injuries as well since being drafted. In 2015 he missed the Canadiens Rookie Tournament, and then in 2016 he was injured during the Development Camp, which led him to being sidelined once again for the Rookie Tournament due to sinus surgery. Out of four opportunities to spend time with the Canadiens coaching personnel to make a positive impression, Bradley was only healthy once.
Drafted 131st overall, Bradley was picked by the Canadiens slightly above his consensus ranking which had him pegged in the 140’s, so it’s not like the Canadiens drafted off the board or took much of a risk. Although he did show improvement year-over-year, again the strength of the Tigers probably had a large impact.
Bradley was traded by the Tigers to the Regina Pats on May 24th, with a probable assurance that the forward would be available for his overage season as part of the transaction. He is also eligible to start his professional career in the AHL should he find a taker. The Canadiens, for example, have in the past allowed rights to expire on a drafted player only to turn around and sign him to an AHL deal, as was the case for Josiah Didier.
It’s worth noting that Bradley already removed the ‘Montreal Canadiens’ prospect tag from his twitter bio.
The Canadiens are at 35 contracts for next season, and have to decide on another 13 Restricted Free Agents and seven Unrestricted Free Agents, with the contract limit being 50.
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