Who The Canadiens Should Keep For Next Season
The Habs' season has been over for a few days now, and even though they threw away a perfectly good opportunity to get to the second round and eliminate the 'Ruins, which would have gotten Humpty Dumpty fired, one can't help but feel the Habs overachieved and played as well as they could given their personnel situation. Let's face it: not many teams would have gotten as far as the Habs did with their #1 and #2(arguably) defensemen lost for the entire season. The injury to Max Pacioretty was the final nail in the coffin for a team plagued by scoring troubles all year.
Now we have to look forward to next season; and there are plenty of roster decisions to be made. Here's my take:
Poor guy can't catch a break (yes I went there). Many people have been saying #79 is now damaged goods, that he'll never play another full season in the NHL. I'm more of an optimist in his case, and I think his recent injuries were more a result of bad luck than anything else. Knee-on-knee collisions and freak skate injuries aren't common, so I think Marky's streak of season-ending injuries will end sooner than later.
He's the Habs' #1 defenseman, their powerplay quarterback and best player. There is no way they can afford to let him walk. Roll the dice and sign him to a long-term, cap-friendly contract. 8 years, 32M deal, perhaps.
Another player the Habs cannot afford to let go. Thankfully he's a restricted free agent, and I don't think it would cost too much to sign him to a long-term extension since he made it clear he wanted to stay for the long run. He doesn't have much offensive upside (even though he showed some flashes this year), so the cap hit should be low. Just get it done Pierre.
The Wiz was brought in to replace the offense lost with the absence of Andrei Markov. A good puck-moving defenseman, Wisniewski had a career year with 51 points and will not come cheap, but I feel he is worth the price if he can settle for around 4-5M in a multi-year deal.
Big Hal may not be the flashiest or fastest skater out there, but his importance in the locker room and on the penalty kill cannot be doubted. Let's hope he wants to stay in Montreal for a hometown discount.
There's no reason not to re-sign the guy, he's been all heart & soul for the Habs all season. He made 500k this year and would probably re-sign for something similar just to stay here.
Great utility guy, great on faceoffs. Sign him to a cool mil to center the 4th line.
Max Pacioretty (RFA)
David Desharnais (RFA)
Ryan White (RFA)
Yannick Weber (RFA)
LET GO / TRADE / BUY OUT:
The Kostitsyn experiment in Montreal is all but over. After another under-achieving season, there's just no way this guy is back in the bleu-blanc-rouge next year. Qualify him then trade him for whatever he's worth, which is probably not much.
OK backup but there are better backup goaltenders out there.
It breaks my heart to let him go, but it's between him or Gill and I'd rather have the big stick (that's what she said).
Buy him out or trade him.
Much like AK46, he showed flashes of potential all season but couldn't play well consistently enough to warrant a spot over guys like Desharnais, Pacioretty and White. Qualify + Trade.
Pacioretty - Gomez - Gionta
Cammalleri - Plekanec - Desharnais
??? - Eller - Darche
Moen - Halpern - White
Markov - Gorges
Subban - Gill
Wisnewski - Weber
Offensive-minded top nine forward, depth defenseman, back-up goaltender.