Montreal Canadiens Free Agency Recap

No matter what Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had planned on doing during the first day of free agency, nothing was going to top the events of Wednesday, when beloved defenceman PK Subban was dealt to Nashville for Shea Weber. As the GM in hockey-mad Montreal, every move Bergevin makes will always be scrutinized endlessly. However, the minute he traded Subban, fans’ faith in Bergevin plummeted to an all time low and he will receive even more criticism than ever before.

Alexander Radulov: All Grown Up?

The big signing of the day for Montreal was forward Alexander Radulov. The signing has been met with a mix of optimism and hesitation. Most of it has nothing to do with Radulov’s play on the ice but rather his character off of it.

Radulov has a reputation for immaturity and making questionable decisions such as partying the night before a playoff game and leaving the NHL for the KHL on multiple occasions. The fact that Subban was traded just days earlier for reasons some think are due to his personality makes this signing more confusing in the wake of that trade. Bergevin has always preached character which confounds fans when Subban is shipped out but Radulov is brought in.

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At 30, Radulov is no longer a kid but isn’t over the hill like last year’s signing, Alexander Semin. Radulov is still a very productive player but he is a high risk high reward signing, as there is a chance he might go back to the KHL and the possibility exists that he won’t be a fit in Montreal.

On a positive note, Radulov has produced well offensively during his various stints in the NHL and has been one of the best players in the KHL during his career. He is an intense player who can be very emotional at times and is a hard worker.

Radulov brings a serious injection of talent into Montreal’s top six because in terms of pure talent he was one of the best players available. He fills a huge need for them going into the season and gives the team more options. Many sources also indicate that Radulov has matured greatly in recent years. So far Radulov is saying all the right things. Now he just needs to follow through.

More Depth

As for the other signings, they were depth moves. Goalie Al Montoya was brought in to be the likely backup to Carey Price. Montoya has shown to be a solid veteran backup in recent years and no doubt after last season, Montreal wanted some insurance behind Price. Bergevin also loves having depth on defence which explains why Zach Redmond was brought in. Redmond is a good skater but is definitely a bottom pairing player at the NHL level or a top pairing defenceman in the AHL.

The next two players added were defenceman Philip Samuelsson and forward Chris Terry. Both are experienced and productive AHL players, something that is severely lacking on Montreal’s farm team. They are signed to one year, two-way deals. In addition, Montreal also signed 2016 first round pick Mikhail Sergachev to an entry-level contract.

Taking A Gamble

There is no doubt the biggest risk of the day was Radulov but other than that, Bergevin played it safe. Many insiders indicate Montreal was in the the running for several high profile players but ultimately lost out. The heat on Bergevin is white hot right now as the team needs to start winning to justify his latest moves. With the core in its prime, especially with Price being healthy, the window is wide open to win which means Montreal has no excuses going forward.