Bruins’ 2023 Free-Agent Targets: Montreal Canadiens

Welcome to The Hockey Writers’ 2023 Free-Agent Targets series for the Boston Bruins. During it, we will be looking at a handful of free agents from each NHL team who the Bruins should consider pursuing this summer.

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In this first edition of the series, we will be focusing on the Bruins’ biggest rival – the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens have a few pending free agents who Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney should consider pursuing. Let’s discuss them now.

Chris Tierney

The Bruins have multiple pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) bottom-six forwards like Nick Foligno, Garnet Hathaway, and Tomas Nosek. Due to their limited cap space, the Bruins will likely lose at least one of them, so they should be hunting for depth forwards this summer. One Canadien who could make sense for them because of this is Chris Tierney.

Chris Tierney Montreal Canadiens
Chris Tierney, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tierney split the 2022-23 season between the Florida Panthers and Canadiens, where he had three goals to go along with 10 points in 36 games. Although this is not jaw-dropping production, the 28-year-old has shown that he can produce a bit in a bottom-six role. With that, he has been noted for his solid defensive play, so he could be a decent depth center worth taking a chance on at a league-minimum contract.

If the Bruins signed Tierney, he would be in the running for a spot on their fourth line. Yet, at a minimum, he would be a good veteran option to have as the club’s 13th forward.

Jonathan Drouin

Jonathan Drouin has been due for a change of scenery for several years now. However, the 2013 third-overall pick’s $5.5 million cap hit proved to be too difficult for the Canadiens to move. Now, the 28-year-old’s contract is expired, and he will have the chance to find a new home this summer through free agency. When noting that he is set for a notable pay cut this summer, he could be a player that Sweeney takes a chance on.

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Drouin had a year of mixed results in 2022-23, as he had just two goals but also recorded 27 assists in 58 games played. Overall, he is a clear example of a pass-first player, and he could be a valuable weapon for the Bruins because of it. Boston simply has more offensive weapons to work with than Montreal, and that could lead to Drouin’s production increasing if signed. With that, he offers versatility, as he can play both left wing and center. When noting that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both could retire this offseason, Drouin’s ability to play center could make him an intriguing target for the Bruins.

Overall, while playing at his best, Drouin is a serviceable middle-six forward. If the Bruins added him, he could be a nice fit on their third line and power play.

Sean Monahan

After a disastrous 2021-22 season with the Calgary Flames, Sean Monahan was moved to the Montreal Canadiens during last offseason. The change of scenery proved to benefit him, as he had six goals and 17 points in 25 games. However, his bounce-back campaign ended in December. While rehabbing his long-term foot injury, Monahan suffered a separate groin injury and had season-ending surgery on it in early April. Now, the 2013 first-round pick is likely to settle for a one-year, prove-it deal in free agency, and the Bruins would be wise to take advantage of it.

Sean Monahan Montreal Canadiens
Sean Monahan, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

If the Bruins lose Bergeron and/or Krejci to retirement this offseason, their center depth is going take a monstrous hit. Heading into the 2023-24 season with Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle as their top two centers would be concerning. As a result, if Monahan can be had at an affordable price, he is exactly the kind of player who the Bruins should consider.

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Monahan would give the Bruins another potential second-liner in their forward group. With that, he would provide their power play with a notable boost if signed, as he is well known for his effective playmaking ability.

The Bruins have some intriguing free-agent targets worth pursuing from the Canadiens. Adding either Monahan or Drouin to their forward group would be great, but it also would not be bad to add an experienced depth forward in Tierney. We will need to wait and see if Boston brings in one of these three this summer.