Where are they now?: Former Canadiens find new homes in free agency
From recent contributors to old friends, a few familiar faces signed contracts with new teams when free agency opened.
The Montreal Canadiens were relatively minor players during the “free agent frenzy” on July 1, with their marquee signing being the returning Tomas Plekanec.
While the attention in Montreal is rightfully focused on the new acquisitions, which have thus far served primarily to bolster the Laval Rocket, some familiar faces found new digs elsewhere in the league as well.
As the Canadiens look set to continue their rebuild, retool, reset, what-have-you, what lays in store for those who have moved on?
Daniel Carr, Vegas Golden Knights
With the Canadiens: 94 GP, 14 G, 20 A, 34 PTS
Signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2014, Daniel Carr brought a surprising amount of scoring to the Canadiens lineup in the few instances where he was consistently used.
Unfortunately for the winger, those instances were few and far between, as he never managed to crack the roster outright. Instead, he often split time between Montreal and the club’s affiliates in Hamilton, St. John’s, and, most recently, Laval.
Now joining the Western Conference Champions in Vegas, Carr should have every opportunity to break out. He will benefit from the departures of David Perron and James Neal in Sin City, and just might become the scoring threat he showed so many flashes of while wearing a Canadiens uniform.
Carr became an unrestricted free agent after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Canadiens. He is set to earn $750,000 on a one-year contract with the Golden Knights.
Thomas Vanek, Detroit Red Wings
With the Canadiens: 18 GP, 6 G, 9 A, 15 PTS
A reminder of better times in Montreal, the acquisition of Thomas Vanek was considered a brilliant move by Marc Bergevin, and signaled a readiness to contend for the Stanley Cup that now seems so far away.
Vanek produced decent numbers with the Habs, although his deployment under head coach Michel Therrien was heavily criticized - often playing alongside Plekanec in a defensive role.
The Austrian national returns to the Red Wings organization with whom he played part of the 2016-17 season. He has remained quite productive into his 30s, and on a 1 year, $3,000,000 contract, Vanek provides a valuable veteran presence on a team with plenty of young forwards who could benefit from his presence.
Jaroslav Halak, Boston Bruins
With the Canadiens: 101 GP, 56 W, .919 SV%, 2.62 GAA
It’s impossible to look back on the Canadiens’ 2010 playoff run without getting nostalgic for Jaroslav Halak. Pushing Carey Price to the bench, Halak looked unbeatable in that post-season, providing all the heroics needed for the eighth-seed Habs to upset both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
After four seasons with the New York Islanders, Halak returns to the Atlantic Division as the back-up goaltender for the rival Boston Bruins. Halak is coming off a tough season in New York, having posted the lowest SV% of his career as a starter.
With a reduced role behind Tuukka Rask, though, Halak could very likely see a return to form. He will earn $5,500,000 over two years in Boston, giving him an annual cap hit of $2,750,000.
Chris Terry, Detroit Red Wings
With the Canadiens: 14 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS
The AHL scoring leader left the organization in hopes of finding a regular NHL role with the Red Wings. While not a blow to the main roster in Montreal, which is chock full of wingers, there’s no question it’s a big loss for the Rocket.
With that being said, the Rocket are in a better position today than they were before Terry’s departure, having added players like Michael Chaput, Alexandre Grenier, and 2016-17 AHL scoring leader Kenny Agostino.
Terry’s contract with the Red Wings is a two-year, $1,350,000 deal, making his AAV $675,000.
Greg Pateryn, Minnesota Wild
With the Canadiens: 82 GP, 2 G, 11 A, 13 PTS
After being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs along with a second round pick for Mikhail Grabovski, Greg Pateryn was used chiefly as a leader for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Canadiens organization before becoming a depth option for the big club.
The right-handed rearguard is now an NHL regular, having suited up in 73 games for the Dallas Stars in 2017-18. He joins the Wild on a 3-year contract with an AAV of $2,250,000, and likely slots into the team’s third pair with both Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon ahead of him on the right side.
Jarred Tinordi, Nashville Predators
With the Canadiens: 46 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 PTS
What could have been. Jarred Tinordi was hyped heavily after the Canadiens traded up to 22nd overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to select him. A towering presence, Tinordi was never able to transition his game to the NHL level.
Fans will remember well the three-team trade that sent Tinordi to Arizona and had John Scott and Victor Bartley join the Canadiens weeks before Tinordi was suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Tinordi played just 7 games in the NHL for the Coyotes, and spent the entire season in the AHL after signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer. That trend is likely to continue, as it’s hard to see any scenario where he cracks the Predators’ defence.
Brian Flynn, St. Louis Blues
With the Canadiens: 116 GP, 10 G, 10 A, 20 PTS
Flynn had a good run at the NHL level, appearing in 275 games in the league from 2012-13 through 2016-17 for both the Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. Flynn was acquired from the Sabres at the 2015 trade deadline, a day that also saw the team add Torrey Mitchell and Jeff Petry for a playoff run that ended in the second round.
While the NHL is not that far out of sight for Flynn, he spent the entirety of last season in the AHL, scoring 47 points in 66 games with the Texas Stars. Now signing with the St. Louis Blues, Flynn is expected to start the season in the minors once again for their affiliate in San Antonio.
Joel Hanley, Dallas Stars
With the Canadiens: 17 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 PTS
Canadiens fans will remember Joel Hanley for his surprising production in a ten-game stint with the club back in 2015-16. Having been called up after a slew of injuries, Hanley managed six assists in 10 games, which remain his only points in the NHL despite having appeared in 12 games since for the Canadiens and Coyotes.
Hanley provides some minor league depth, as he will certainly report to the Texas Stars after inking a one-year, $650,000 deal with Dallas.
Adam Cracknell, Toronto Maple Leafs
With the Rocket: 54 GP, 27 G, 21 A, 48 PTS
The departure of Adam Cracknell from Laval is just one in a complete turnover of a roster that finished dead last in the league last season. Cracknell was one of few bright spots statistically, though, recording nearly a point-per-game with the Rocket.
The 32-year-old is a veteran of 208 NHL games, and could potentially compete for a spot with the Leafs on the fourth line or in the press-box, though is more likely to join the Toronto Marlies who will be defending their Calder Cup championship next season.
Zachary Fucale, Vegas Golden Knights
The former second-round pick, Memorial Cup winner, gold medalist, and Spengler Cup winner has just not been able to put it together in the Canadiens organization.
While he played in 42 games for the Ice Caps in 2015-16, Fucale has spent the majority of his time at the ECHL level, appearing in only 21 AHL games since. He hasn’t been particularly good even at that level with the Brampton Beast.
Still, someone was going to give him a chance given his history of success, and that team turned out to be the Golden Knights. With Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban well ahead of him in the pecking order, Fucale is likely to share duties with Maxime Lagace for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
Jeremy Grégoire, Milwaukee Admirals
With the Rocket: 181 GP, 27 G, 21 A, 48 PTS
Chosen with the 176th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Jeremy Grégoire looked like something of a steal at one point after making impressive strides in the QMJHL. That hasn’t translated at the professional level, though, as Gregoire is coming off a career year in the AHL with just 25 points and 115 PIMs.
Grégoire was not qualified by the Canadiens and did not receive an NHL contract as a UFA, instead signing an AHL deal with the Predators’ affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
David Desharnais, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
With the Canadiens: 435 GP, 79 G, 171 A, 250 PTS
The diminutive centre from Laurier-Station is the longest-serving member of the Canadiens on this list, and maybe the most divisive. Desharnais became a scapegoat during his time in Montreal, but there’s no questioning the chemistry he had alongside Max Pacioretty.
Since leaving Montreal, Desharnais spent time with the Edmonton Oilers, for whom he appeared in just 18 games before joining the New York Rangers last season. He did manage 28 points in 71 games for the Rangers, but will now enter a new stage in his career, joining Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. There he will join fellow Quebecker Maxime Talbot.