The Montreal Canadiens had a wild few days, but with the Seattle Expansion Draft and 2021 Entry Draft now over, the focus has shifted to the free-agent market and moves that can improve the team before starting the new season in October. There have been many rumours that the Canadiens are in on some big-name players, so I took a deeper look at some of those.
Canadiens Seriously Looking at Eichel
There have been people linking the Canadiens and Jack Eichel ever since it was suggested he was not staying with the Buffalo Sabres. Was there any truth to those rumours then? Not really. Is there now? Yes, there is. It seems that the Canadiens have had a few talks with the Sabres about working out a deal for Eichel. The asking price could be the thing that keeps Canadiens general manager (GM), Marc Bergevin, away.
Eichel would be a major improvement at center for the Canadiens, but Habs fans shouldn’t get their hopes up: according to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, it’s pretty unlikely that Eichel will join the team. He admits they have inquired about the forward, but he doesn’t see it happening unless the asking price changes.
David Savard Likely to Sign With the Canadiens
It’s all but assured that Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman David Savard would sign with the Canadiens. The Stanley Cup champion has been rumoured to be signing with the Habs since the season ended, and it appears those rumours are true. The Canadiens are desperate for right-handed defencemen since it was announced Shea Weber would miss the upcoming season.
Savard won his first Stanley Cup last season, helping Tampa Bay defeat the Canadiens. The St. Hyacinthe, Quebec native, will provide the team with a good third-pairing defenceman who is very good at the transition game. He is not the top four defencemen the organization needs but will provide depth and help on the penalty kill. The Canadiens will likely need to sign multiple defencemen to replace Weber’s minutes.
Getzlaf Could be Headed to the Canadiens
A recent rumour raised the idea of Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf signing with the Canadiens. They signed former Duck Corey Perry, who had an excellent season playing in a bottom-six role, late last offseason. Perhaps they felt that they could get the same type of depth from Getzlaf. If the Canadiens re-sign Perry, it could be a great reunion.
Although many teams are said to have an interest in Getzlaf, it is worth noting the Canadiens had an interest in him last season around the same time they signed Perry. If they sign Getzlaf, he would be a solid veteran center that would increase production on the fourth line and bring leadership to the dressing room.
Hamilton Still on the Canadiens’ Radar
Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Dougie Hamilton is still on the Canadiens radar – and why not? The veteran blueliner could help them replace Weber in one good signing instead of multiple. Hamilton could be just a fan’s pipe dream, but he would fill a hole being a player the Canadiens haven’t had in years, and that’s a top-four, puck-moving defenceman who can play in all situations.
Although Carolina has mentioned they would like to re-sign Hamilton, other teams also have major interests, such as the New Jersey Devils and The Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s a very slim chance that the Canadiens land Hamilton, although with Weber almost assured to go on the long-term injury reserve (LTIR) list, they would have the money to sign him to a big contract.
Wideman returns to the NHL, Signing with the Canadiens
Former Ottawa Senator Chris Wideman has reportedly signed with the Canadiens. The defenceman has supposedly signed a one-year deal with the Habs, turning down a $2 million deal to return to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Wideman would purely be a depth signing to provide the Canadiens with sixth or seventh defenceman on the team.
Wideman had a very productive season in the KHL with 41 points in 59 games with Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo. His production has been previously excellent in the AHL as well; however, he has yet to find the same success at the NHL level. A good puck mover with an average shot, Wideman could have a solid season trying to prove he is an NHL player.
Paquette Could Sign with the Canadiens
Another former Bolt may find his way to the Canadiens: Cedric Paquette is rumoured to be in talks to sign a contract with the Canadiens. He split last season between the Senators and the Hurricanes. Paquette would be another depth signing, and if they choose to sign him, it may mean Perry will not return.
If Paquette is signed, the Canadiens would be adding another francophone player to the roster – they currently only have Jonathan Drouin. Last season was the first time in the team’s history where they never had a Quebecois player in the lineup for a game, and it started a small, albeit intense, controversy.
The free-agent frenzy is upon us, and the Canadiens will probably be linked to just about everyone of importance. Remember to check for the blue checkmarks on Twitter and other social media sites; you can also always trust your friendly writers here at The Hockey Writers.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com. Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on CTV news and ESPN Radio; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.