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The Canadiens aren’t making the same mistakes as the Maple Leafs
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Over the past few days, the Canadiens have made a number of decisions. It chose to trade pick #26 (with two other parlays) in return for Kings pick #21. In the end, it was to draft Michael Hage.

Kent Hughes also drafted Ivan Demidov (a huge win for the club), Aatos Koivu and seven other prospects.

The GM traded Johnathan Kovacevic to the Devils. And on the heels of July 1, he signed Alex Barré-Boulet… as well as Juraj Slafkovsky to an eight-year contract (2025-2033) valued at $60.8 million.

Obviously, the Habs weren’t going to stand in the way of signing big contracts that the club would regret in a few years’ time. The goal right now is to let ugly veteran contracts lapse, not add to them. #Gallagher #Anderson #Price #Dvorak #Armia

But that said, Slaf’s contract, while one of the largest July 1, 2024 in the NHL, remains tied to the Habs rebuild. And if all goes well, the more time passes, the better off he’ll be.

Signing Jonathan Marchessault, for example, would have had the opposite effect.

When you look at it, the Canadiens’ big forward contracts (Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky) are all deals that are under 10% of the club’s total payroll.

In 2021, Nick Suzuki took 9.66% of the Habs’ mass – and in 2022, when his contract began, it was 9.55%. In 2023, Cole Caufield took 9.52%.

What about Slaf? If his contract started today, he’d take 8.64% of the mass. And since his contract starts next year, when the mass should be at $92M, he should be at 8.26% of the mass in due course.

It’s all well and good to come up with numbers, but let’s go with a comparison to put things in perspective.

If we look at the Maple Leafs, we see that right now, four forwards take up between 12 and 16% of the mass each. We’re talking about the core-4, as you might expect.

  • Auston Matthews: $13.25 M, 15.1% of weight
  • William Nylander: $11.5 M, 13.1% of weight
  • John Tavares: $11 M, 12.5% of weight
  • Mitch Marner: $10.903M, 12.4% of weight

Add Morgan Reilly (8.5% of payroll with a cap hit of $7.5 million) and you’ve got a big reason for the lack of depth in the Queen City organization.

I know the Maple Leafs are more productive than the Habs. But not to this extent.

Of course, you already knew these guys won a lot, but putting things in perspective always helps. And right now, Suzuki, the Habs’ highest (active) earner, is under 9% of payroll.

And with the cap going up, it’s only going to get better. #MerciMarcBergevin

Kent Hughes has managed to respect his salary scale by signing his first line long-term for less than $24 million. And this will allow the GM, one day, to add the right pieces to his team… especially on defense. And that’s something the Maple Leafs can’t afford.

That’s why the club has made short-term decisions that will affect the club in the long term. Chris Tanev for SIX YEARS at $4.5 million? Oliver Ekman-Larsson for four years at $3.5M? #Ark

The problem is that Toronto is so strapped that GM Brad Treliving has no choice but to overpay for ordinary defensemen instead of going for a real one.

Look at Utah HC. The club is flush with cash and has managed to fill its defensive needs with good short- and long-term defensemen. John Marino and Mikhail Sergachev will really help the club, which also signed Sean Durzi for four years.

Don’t tell me that instead of trying to extend Mitch “Mr. Series” Marner’s contract, the club couldn’t have tried to build a deal to bring in top-notch defensive reinforcements?

The Canadiens are putting themselves in a position where they won’t have to do what the Maple Leafs did a few years from now, when they’re in the winning stage. And if all goes well, getting past the first round won’t really be an issue.


– To be continued in Toronto.

– Vladimir Tarasenko has an offer on the table from the Penguins. Word is he’d like to stay in Sunrise.

– A name to keep an eye on at the Habs development camp.

– Tyler Toffoli’s wife is proud to be home.

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