The Montreal Canadiens have signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Karl Alzner to a five-year contract worth $23.125 million. The deal carries a cap hit of $4.625 million and is a sizable increase from the $2.8 cap hit that he carried for the last four seasons with the Washington Capitals. The deal was reported by Aaron Ward of TSN ahead of the start of free agency at 12:00 PM EST on Saturday but was confirmed by Darren Dreger of TSN once the signing period officially opened.
Unofficially hearing Alzner and Montreal Canadiens have agreed on a 5 year deal at roughly $4.5M per. #TSN
— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) July 1, 2017
The fifth-overall draft pick from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Alzner has spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Washington Capitals. A modern-day iron man, Alzner has played in every game of the regular season for the Capitals dating back to the 2010-11 season. With 540 consecutive games played, Alzner is as dependable as it gets on the backend in terms of consistency from a game-to-game basis on the team sheet. Whether or not Alzner is a legitimate top-pairing defender is a different story altogether.
A typical stay-at-home defender, Alzner won’t ever produce anything notable on the scoresheet. In 591 career games, the 28-year-old has scored 19 goals and 117 points. Despite this, he’s made a name for himself as a sturdy defender who can log big minutes, even if the analytics suggest that he isn’t as good as some may proclaim him to be. Any player who can play in as many consecutive games as Alzner was bound to command a decent payday in free agency. For the Canadiens, a team looking for defensemen this offseason, the fit was naturally there.
Canadiens Making Moves
The 2017 offseason has been anything but boring for the Montreal Canadiens. Starting off the period with a splash by trading away blue chip defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning to in exchange for forward Jonathan Drouin. The Canadiens also lost defenseman Alexei Emelin to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft which further weakened the Canadiens defensive depth. With the reported $6 million per season figure that long-time Canadiens defender Andrei Markov is seeking, it’s also expected that the team will let him talk to other teams as they continue to negotiate a potential extension. The signing of Alzner makes more sense for the team if they fail to come to terms on a deal with Markov.
Additionally, the Canadiens are still negotiating a contract extension with Alexander Radulov. While the Russian forward is looking for a long-term contract, the Canadiens are unlikely to agree to pay him for anything longer than four years and are likely looking to pay him somewhere in the realm of $6 million per season. It’ll be an interesting offseason for the Canadiens still despite all of the moves they’ve already made.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.