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A cap of around $88 million in 2024-2025 would be ideal for the Canadiens
Elliotte Friedman, always well-connected, chatted with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. In the course of the discussion, it was confirmed that we should be talking about an $83.5 million salary cap in 2023-2024. No surprise there.

But what’s interesting is what happens next.

According to the Commissioner, it’s possible to believe that the players’escrow will be paid for the 2024-2025 season, so the cap could rise substantially.

We already knew it was going to be quite high, and the figure of $88 million has already been raised. That said, to hear the commissioner confirm that this is a possible amount (anything can change, but it’s a realistic amount) is quite promising.

In 2022-2023, the cap was $82.5 million. In 2023-2024, it will probably be $83.5M. Going up to around $88M would be an increase in the neighborhood of four million dollars.

I don’t need to tell you that this kind of increase hasn’t been seen since the pandemic.

And that brings us to the Canadian. How much of a game-changer is this for Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton, whose mandate it is to lead the Habs back to the promised land?

In reality, the CH’s plan is simple. On paper, the bottom of the barrel was reached at the end of the 22-23 season. In 23-24, the club wants to climb back up the standings and take a step forward.

And in 24-25, the final year of coach Martin St-Louis’ contract, the club wants to be competitive.

So, theoretically, there’s one year left that’s a little tougher than the others. The Canadiens won’t be making the playoffs in 2024, but the goal will be to aspire to one in 2025.

And when you look at Cap Friendly, you realize that the Canadiens will have the means to achieve their ambitions a year from now.

Right now, the Habs have 14 players under contract for the 2024-2025 season. 68.155 million is on the club’s books, which would leave around twenty million dollars free for the future.

(Credit: Cap Friendly)

But be warned: the amount includes the salary of Carey Price, whose playing career is over. The goalie has moved out West for the rest of his life, and his visits here and there in town won’t be to play for the Habs.

So, basically, we’re talking about a package worth close to $30 million.

The situation is quite different right now. After all, Carey Price’s contract aside, the Habs have about $8 million to spare right now.

Cap Friendly leads us to believe that we’re talking about nine, but you have to add Cayden Primeau, who, until proven otherwise, is in Montreal. After all, he can’t go to Laval without going through the ballot.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Yönen and Denis Gurianov, who could perhaps return, also need new contracts.

All of which is to say that the Canadian is not badly taken this year, but that has nothing to do with next year. This year, he could add an ugly contract to help a team (if he feels like it, like with Sean Monahan last year) or even add a Pierre-Luc Dubois.

But even if he’s not badly taken this year, he’ll have a lot of lousse a year from now. A lot more.

With the passage of time, some nasty contracts are gradually coming off the Habs’ books. This summer, Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin are the two biggest departures. Sean Monahan, meanwhile, is no longer on the terms of such a big contract.

But in a year’s time, this will be even more obvious because of the extra kit. After all, Mike Hoffman and Joel Edmundson are the biggest contracts that will allow the Habs to breathe easier. Sean Monahan is also likely to leave in 2024 – depending on his health.

Rem Pitlick and Chris Wideman may also leave, but their contracts don’t hurt the CH.

Justin Barron and Arber Xhekaj will be compensated free agents, but there’s no Cole Caufield next summer. I don’t see an RFA breaking the bank.

Samuel Montembeault could earn a few million dollars more (he earns a million dollars and will be free as a bird in 2024), certainly, but nothing that will destroy the club’s salary balance.

All of which is to say that we can see that Kent Hughes will have some lousse. Plus, if the GM wants, the effect of time passing will make it easier for him to think about a contract buyout in 2024.

I’m thinking of you, Brendan Gallagher and (especially) Joel Armia.

A guy like Christian Dvorak will be a year away from autonomy. That could easily justify a trade, too. The same goes for David Savard… even though he’s more useful than Dvorak in my eyes.

Adding the injured list (except Price, who won’t play again), 10 forwards, five defensemen and one goalie are already in town for 2023-2024, and as I said, there won’t be a Cole Caufield-style player commanding a big salary increase.

The result? Kent Hughes will have tens of millions of dollars at his disposal to dance around. This will open up many possibilities for him next off-season.

A world of possibilities will open up for the Habs. And with Martin St-Louis as coach, let’s just say it’s another selling point to attract people to the city.

In bursts

– We agree.

– Serge Beausoleil at the helm of the Olympiques?

– I think a deal involving him will be very complicated. #AccountingLeague

– Interesting.

– No, Max Pacioretty is not coming to Montreal.

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