Montreal Canadiens general manager (GM) Kent Hughes was joined by his special advisor, Vincent Lecavalier, for a press conference on July 4 in advance of the NHL Entry Draft being hosted in Montreal and there was no new information provided.

What was apparent was that Lecavalier has only spoken to Shane Wright so far and that Hughes is open to making deals. This makes sense as the Habs will want to make a splash at the draft, not for showmanship, but to accelerate the rebuild plan. Furthermore, they have to make moves to manage the salary cap.

 

Canadiens’ Salary Cap Situation

As of the press conference on July 4, the Canadiens’ salary cap sits at $80.577 million with 19 of the maximum 23 players under contract on the roster. This seems as though Hughes has solved the problem, however that ignores the fact that there are several restricted free agents (RFA) to be signed and some may not receive a qualifying offer if the cap cannot be managed as soon as possible.

Being in long-term injury reserve (LTIR) last season hurt them in that regard as the bonuses got added to the cap hit on the final day of the regular season, and the Canadiens were well beyond the $81.5 million limit. Also, it affects the off-season cap limit of 10 percent over the set cap as the bonus overages that are to apply for the upcoming season also count towards the offseason cap total, regardless of the day the bonuses are paid out. So while it was good to see the development of Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Cole Caufield, it did come with an added cost.

 

Canadiens’ Restricted Free Agents

There is also uncertainty surrounding Carey Price and his health. If he can’t play, he will be placed on LTIR. There will be no knowing how his knee will respond until well into training, and because of this Hughes will need to keep his $10.5 million cap hit on the books.

The cap situation also currently leaves no room to re-sign RFAs such as Rem Pitlick. He proved his value to the club by his versatility in playing up and down the lineup, either on the wing or at the center. Since being claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Wild, he has played with speed and added some offence too, scoring nine goals and 26 points in 46 games. Last season, the 25-year-old forward earned $925,000 and has shown he deserves a raise on a bridge contract.