Likeliest Canadiens UFAs to Re-Sign with Habs in 2022 Offseason

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes may have delivered a 2022 trade deadline master class. But he far from cleaned house in terms of all his pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs).

Kent Hughes, Montreal Canadiens GM
Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes – (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Several still remain on the roster, meaning he was unable to get anything for them. So, the Canadiens can theoretically lose them for nothing, but that doesn’t necessarily count as a failure, at least not in each case. A select few may still be in the team’s future plans.

Related: 4 Players Who Have Earned Contract Extensions With the Canadiens

Here’s the complete list of expiring on-roster contracts, conveniently ordered in increasing likelihood that they re-sign with the Canadiens this upcoming 2022 offseason:

William Lagesson

William Lagesson was a relatively unheralded throw-in by the Edmonton Oilers, when they acquired Brett Kulak at the deadline. At this point, that description seems especially apt, as he’s played just a single game with the Canadiens.

William Lagesson Edmonton Oilers
Ex-Edmonton Oilers defenseman William Lagesson – (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

While a pending restricted free agent at the onset of this season, his future with the Canadiens was in doubt from the get-go. Part of it had to do with the team’s relatively jam-packed left side on defense, especially with the return from injury of Joel Edmundson and the debut of Jordan Harris. As a result Lagesson was realistically never going to get in enough games to avoid hitting Group VI unrestricted free agency.

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You’d just think he’d have played more, if the Canadiens saw him as a piece for the future. That logjam on the left side isn’t going away though. It’s only going to get bigger, even without Lagesson.

Mathieu Perreault

It’s safe to say Mathieu Perreault’s Quebec homecoming could have gone smoother. Limited to just 20 games due to various injuries, Perreault was also waived at one point, having scored just three goals and three assists so far. Adding insult to those injuries, the three goals all came in a single game.

Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault
Ex-Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault – (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan)

It was an impressive performance, but Perreault can’t be expected to replicate those kinds of games very often. He is 34 years old after all and significantly in decline, relative to earlier in his career when he was a legitimate middle-six option.

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Of course, Perreault was arguably signed last summer for a reason. And that reason hasn’t necessarily changed. It would simply be hard to justify keeping him on board, with younger options, even younger options down the middle, readily available.

Laurent Dauphin

Laurent Dauphin is conceivably one of those options. It would be a stretch to say the 27-year-old’s impressed this season, scoring a career-high four goals and eight assists in 34 games, but he has been relied upon consistently, with regular shifts between Mike Hoffman and Brendan Gallagher.

Laurent Dauphin Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens forward Laurent Dauphin – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Logically, Dauphin is no one’s first (or fifth) choice to solve the Canadiens’ lack of depth down the middle, following the departures of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Phillip Danault last offseason. However, as a depth option? He’s less than ideal, but a possibility nevertheless, considering his cheap price tag.

Chris Wideman

Defenseman Chris Wideman’s return to the NHL has been a relative success. He’s scored 25 points in 56 games and even earned some All-Star Game buzz (however unjustifiable it was). Ultimately, for a guy who was in line for little more than a seventh-defenseman spot to start the season, Wideman’s done all right for himself.

Now, for the elephant in the room. Had injuries not been as much of an issue this season for the Canadiens, it’s likely Wideman would not have played as much. When it comes down to it, Wideman’s 32-year-old journeyman defenseman. There just may not be room for him on the right side next season, following the acquisition of Justin Barron for example.

Chris Wideman Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There’s also David Savard and Jeff Petry (for now). Sure, Petry may be on his way out, but you just don’t replace a Petry with Wideman. You maybe do with a Kris Letang, who’s rumored to be joining the Canadiens this offseason. Or someone else via free agency.

It’s possible, maybe even probable the Canadiens like what they got out of Wideman. However, if there’s only room for him as a depth option, he’ll realistically explore free agency himself. The stats say he’s done enough to earn interest from other teams.

Tyler Pitlick

On one hand, Tyler Pitlick was seen as a throw-in as a pending UFA, when the Canadiens traded Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames. Similar to Lagesson above, in fact. However, what’s different is Pitlick has gotten in five games (instead of just one), despite time spent on injured reserve.

Pitlick may not have any upside beside that of a depth forward at this point in time, but every team needs players to play that role. And the 30-year-old can do just that should there be mutual interest from both parties to keep the working relationship going. There’s at least a good chance that’s the case based on how both of Pitlick’s cousins, Rhett and suddenly more notoriously Rem, are in the organization too.

Tyler Pitlick Calgary Flames
Ex-Calgary Flames forward Tyler Pitlick – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Rem has emerged as potential key secondary scoring piece for the future, despite being a mere pick-up off waivers a few months ago. So, there’s a good chance he’s at least staying in the fold. Rhett, a 2019 NHL Entry Draft fifth-round pick, has similar middle-six upside. It will probably be a few years before he even gets a chance at making the Canadiens, though.

Will Tyler stay the course? It’s at least a possibility, with admittedly none of the above names being clear locks to stay with the team. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. None are inherently irreplaceable, pointing to Hughes (and executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton) being able to shift their focus this offseason elsewhere to improve the team.

That can and maybe should mean letting the above players walk in order to reload on bottom-of-the-lineup talent via free agency. But it’s good to know there are familiar options close to home, if the Habs so choose. If not, so be it if each of the listed players find another. As proven by the fact only Dauphin has a history with the organization predating this season, it is a business after all.