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Even if the CH has money a year from now, that doesn’t mean a big free agent is coming.
A year from now, the Canadiens will have a little more financial muscle than they did this summer. Why? Because contracts will expire. Because some players will be gone within a year. Because the salary cap will go up. Because players could be bought out if need be.

In short, a number of reasons apply in a club that is becoming younger and younger. And we know that the youngsters arriving won’t be earning the moon in the first few years of their careers.

Currently, the CH is $4.7 million over the salary cap, according to Cap Friendly. But in a year’s time, the contracts of Joel Edmundson and Karl Alzner will no longer be on the club’s payroll. Casey DeSmith and Chris Wideman will also be off the books.

I don’t think Arber Xhekaj, Justin Barron, Gustav Lindstrom and Jesse Ylönen, all restricted free agents a year from now, will command a substantial salary increase.

The cases of Samuel Montembeault and Sean Monahan remain to be seen, but they won’t suddenly earn $10M each, we agree.

All this to say that, at the moment, if nothing moves, the Habs could be on the verge of a $12 million payday. And that’s not counting the contract of Carey Price, who could be on the off-season injury list next year.

(Credit: Cap Friendly)

So, on paper, if the club wants to sign big free agents, it can afford to do so.

And since the Habs are supposed to be better this year and want to keep improving, it’s logical to think that, for the first time since the change in management, the CH could be aggressive on the free-agent market.

But just because the club has the money to do it doesn’t mean it will.

I say this because Jeff Gorton, the Canadiens’ VP, said something in the behind-the-scenes video of the CH draft that’s pretty interesting on this subject.

When you pick fifth… there are always only a few ways to add talent. It’s tough.

You can’t go in via free agents without giving too much money to an older player. – Jeff Gorton

Gorton, who signed Artemi Panarin for big money in New York, is aware that the free-agent market is often a perfect place to offer contracts you may regret.

And in Montreal, a Canadian market where it’s cold in winter, the pressure is on, the tax rate is high and fans want to see players speak a little French, overpaying sometimes becomes necessary.

Does this mean the CH won’t be looking for a free agent? That’s not what I’m saying.

But even so, looking at the list of top players who will be available in a year’s time, I don’t see any ideal candidates to join the CH as free agents. Because, as the VP said, guys are often old.

(Credit: Spotrac)

I’ll admit that, just the same, I don’t see any players who are clearly a natural fit to join the club like Pierre-Luc Dubois was this summer, for example.

We’re talking about a player for whom the CH didn’t feel like overpaying.

I don’t think Steven Stamkos wants to leave Tampa Bay to join the CH… but at the same time, if Kent Hughes tells him “he’s going to love the coach” as he told Kirby Dach, Stamkos knows it’s true.

Does Gorton know it’s unlikely and has prepared, a year in advance, his team to lower the expectations of fans, who might be disappointed not to see the Habs sign a big name? Who knows.

It’s also worth remembering that, with the payroll going up by a few million dollars for everyone in the NHL, outbidding is likely to rise even higher than expected.

It’s going to be a festival of disproportionate offers in some cases. So much the better if the Habs stay away from it.

I have a feeling that if the CH needs to add a big name to its organization, it could be through a transaction. After all, the CH has the bank of prospects to do just that, and it would help avoid destroying the salary balance that Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton are trying to build.

But hey. I’m just saying that, and I’m well aware that everything has time to change 1,937 times over the next 10 months…

In a row

– Now that’s a name.

– Ah, the famous future considerations.

– Did the CH do well to stay away from Matvei Michkov?[BPM Sports]

– Eduard Sale is off to the OHL. [TSLH]

– There was a big crowd in California to see Messi beat L.A. with two assists.

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