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Tyler Toffoli and Sean Monahan salary projections
Credit: Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL free agent market opens on July 1. It’s an opportunity for the league’s 32 teams to add a little talent to their rosters and a chance for out-of-contract players to hit the jackpot.

In Montreal, there’s a sense that the Habs may be putting their nose to the grindstone. It may not be a big splash, but it could be a big move.

Of course, the most talked-about names are Steven Stamkos, Jake Guentzel and Sam Reinhart. I expect to see all three guys stay where they are now, but we agree that things could change.

However, there are two well-known guys in Montreal who will be free as a bird: Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli. Both guys, who finished the year in Winnipeg, will sign new contracts this summer.

And in his paper of the day for The Athletic, Chris Johnston played the salary projection game: according to him, both guys will sign three-year contracts, but Toffoli’s projected annual salary ($6.113 million) is higher than Monahan’s ($5.258 million).

Both forwards are coming off big seasons, and we can expect to see them sign for big money. Toffoli has continued to score goals (he has 33 this season), while Sean Monahan played 88 games (season + playoffs) in 2023-24, a noteworthy feat for a guy who has been so affected by injuries.

The age of both guys at the start of next season (32 for Toffoli, 30 for Monahan) probably means they won’t sign very long pacts, but at three years, it looks good for everyone.

Speaking of age, the projection in The Athletic ‘s rankings that will cause a stir is Joe Pavelski. According to the site’s projections, the 40-year-old would sign a three-year pact at an annual salary of $7.374 million, which would be a bigger deal than those projected for Toffoli and Monahan.

I’d like to think he’s still scoring 20+ goals a year with regularity and putting up 60-70 points a season… but a three-year deal for a 40-year-old would be something. Patrick Kane, who is almost five years younger, will only sign a one-year deal based on the same projections.

So it’s something to keep an eye on, but with the Habs having the money, you have to wonder if the club wouldn’t like to take a chance by bringing back one of its two former players. Would you do so if it were possible to sign them for these projections?

In bursts

– David Pagnotta confirms what everyone expected: Tanner Pearson won’t return to Montreal next year.

– Nothing less.

You can tell he’s frustrated.

– At 37, time is running out.

– Well done. He’s not to blame for the team’s rocky start to the season.

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