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It’s now official, Phillip Danault will not be back with the Montreal Canadiens as he signed a 6-year deal with an AAV of $5,500,000 with the Los Angeles Kings. According to Danault, after the Canadiens made him a 6-year at $5M per he made a counteroffer and Montreal never got back to him. It’s hard to blame Danault for capitalizing on his one chance to get a big pay day, but at the same time, he’s going to a team where is role will be less than guaranteed. If he felt threatened by Suzuki and Kotkaniemi, he should feel the same way about Kopitar, Byfield and Turcotte. His contract also included a full no movement clause for the first 3 years and a modified no trade clause for the last 3 years. Also, I get the feeling he had had enough of being the French-Canadian voice of the team and I don’t think anyone can be annoyed with him for that.
Now, on to the players that the Canadiens did sign. As expected, David Savard and Cedric Paquette were the first two signings confirmed before Chris Wideman’s arrival was also confirmed. In David Savard, the Canadiens get a big defenseman, hard to play against who can also play on the PK. Furthermore, Bergevin managed to sign him to a reasonable deal, 4-year at $3.5M per, which is both a pay cut for Savard and the same amount as Edmundson and Chiarot made. Clearly, Savard wanted to play in Montreal, he said it himself; “when the Canadiens made an offer we couldn’t refuse. It was a family decision, it was always a dream to play for the Canadiens and now, we’ll get to send our kids to a francophone school.” Savard also added that the news on Shea Weber did play a part in his decision since he wanted to have a big part to play.
As for Cedric Paquette, he only signed a 1-year deal worth $950,000 and will definitely not be a replacement for Danault. Paquette is a hard worker and will bring some grit in the line-up, personally, I see him as a good fit as the 4th line center or a bottom 6 winger, should Ryan Poehling managed to win a spot in the line-up come October.
Later on, the Habs also signed Chris Wideman who’s a right-handed defenseman who’s got an offensive upside and come off a great season in the KHL in which he was named the best defenseman. His contract is a 1-year deal worth $750,000 and Marc Bergevin said he will have a spot to earn in the line-up, he’ll need to deserve to play at the NHL level.
After Marc Bergevin had spoken to the media, it was announced that the Canadiens had signed Mike Hoffman to a 3-year deal contract with a $4.5 M cap hit. His best career season came in 2018-2019 when he gathered 70 points in Florida and last year in St-Louis, he scored 17 goals (7 of which where on the PP) and added 19 assists for 36 points in 52 games. In his press conference, Bergevin had said that no offer had been made to Tomas Tatar but that the door remained opened, I expect this signing shuts that door. There had been a lot of chatter in the past about Hoffman’s girlfriend being toxic for the locker-room in Ottawa, but since then, things seemed to have calmed down. As for depth signings, Jean-Sébastien Dea and Louie Belpedio were both signed to 2-way contracts and will likely improved the Laval line-up.
It’s also worth noting that Bergevin confirmed that a contract offer had been made to Corey Perry but that he had not responded yet. Hopefully, Perry signs on the dotted line because his leadership would be even more important now that Shea Weber is on the shelf.
Finally, I feel I need to mention that Geoff Molson has issued a letter addressing the Canadiens’ picking Logan Mailloux essentially, it outlines what the organization intends to do to be part of the solution and how they plan to help the youngster becoming his best self. Also, he indicates that Mailloux has been told not to come to the rookie or training camp, states that playing in the NHL is a privilege and not a right and that the situation will be reevaluated later in the year to see if he is ready to join the organization. This statement was long overdue and to issue it at the precise start of free-agency frenzy was kind of a strange timing to say the least.
Marc Bergevin’s work is far from done now even with today’s acquisitions, he has admitted that in an ideal world he would like to get a puck moving defenseman and that while he’s happy with his young centers progress, he will keep an eye out for a veteran center. Money might be a bit tight though, according to Cap Friendly, Montreal now has $973,630 in projected cap space, but that’s without taking Weber’s contract off the books. Having him on LTIR creates $7,857,143 of breathing room, but that isn’t a lot of space should Perry sign the offer he received.
Overall, it’s been a satisfying day for Marc Bergevin. David Savard was one of the big names defenseman still available and he reeled him in for less than Savard could have had on the market. In Mike Hoffman, he gets a legitimate top 6 left winger, which fills the tuna side hole left in the line-up by Tatar’s departure and Cedric Paquette will be an improvement over Eric Staal as a 4th line center. Are the Canadiens better now than during the playoffs? I’m not sure they are, but Bergevin is at least on the right track and there is still hope.