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Sean Monahan’s return creates congestion up front

If everyone’s healthy (which I’m sure they won’t be), the Habs will be packed in 2023-2024.

After all, we already knew it: the return of Sean Monahan, who signed a one-year contract to stay in town, confirmed this reality for the club’s next season.

When you look at it, there’s going to be a good internal struggle to try and make the Habs a club that shouldn’t draft in the top-5 next year – in the best of all worlds.

The proof? There are plenty of forwards under contract in Montreal. Six of them will earn at least four million dollars next season.

  • Nick Suzuki: $7.875 million
  • Cole Caufield: $7.85 million
  • Brendan Gallagher: $6.5 million
  • Josh Anderson: $5.5 M
  • Mike Hoffman: $4.5 M
  • Christian Dvorak: $4.45 M

To this group, we must add Joel Armia, Kirby Dach, Jake Evans, Rem Pitlick, Juraj Slafkovsky, Michael Pezzetta and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (RFA) for a total of 14 players following the signing of Monahan.

So while the guys are happy to have Monahan back, the fact remains that he’s cutting someone’s position. Don’t expect the club to sign a big free agent, in any case.

But wait: I’m not done yet.

Sean Farrell is going to fight to make the club. Jesse Ylönen needs a contract preventing him from going to Laval. Emil Heineman finished the season well with the Rocket. Riley Kidney, Joshua Roy and Owen Beck (who is not eligible to play in Laval) want to make the club.

Can we expect to see Jonathan Drouin, Chris Tierney, Anthony Richard, Denis Gurianov and Alex Belzile go elsewhere? Perhaps, at this point, it will be inevitable to see them try their luck elsewhere.

Especially if Belzile wants two years in the NHL…

If the Habs want to keep 14 forwards, they’ll necessarily have to have just seven defensemen and two goalies. For the goalies, that means Cayden Primeau or Jake Allen will have to go in such a scenario – if Samuel Montembeault is healthy at the end of camp.

On the blue line? Mike Matheson, Joel Edmundson (if he isn’t traded), David Savard, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron, Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Johnathan Kovacevic and Chris Wideman will want to keep their positions.

Logan Mailloux and Jayden Struble (for form) will be fighting for a spot.

So you see, if everyone is healthy, decisions will have to be made. And since I don’t think Mike Hoffman can really be attractive this summer, it’s going to come down to the Rem Pitlick ballot or something like that.

Again, injuries could be a game-changer. But with a revamped medical team, it might not be as easy to make room for them as it was last year.

That said, bringing Monahan back at such a low price was the right thing to do. In a year’s time, he’ll need even more leeway to really put the club in his hands for the future, which means Monahan will be tested this year for the future.

In bursts

– Bob Gainey’s daughter is in politics.

– Official.

– When will they return to the NHL?

– Obviously.

– Things are bad in Chicago.

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