Looking ahead at possible offseason roster moves by the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames.
What next for the Canadiens?
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance suggests the Montreal Canadiens attempt to re-sign pending UFA defenseman Jeff Petry, who was acquired at the trade deadline and proved a solid addition to the Habs blueline. Custance also recommends Canadiens management get in touch with Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to gauge his interest in coming to Montreal.
SI.COM: Allan Muir believes the Canadiens need a top-line center and at least two top-six scoring wingers. He also speculates the Habs could be linked to Babcock in the coming weeks.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Dave Stubbs speculates this will be a busy summer for Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, “who might have to shed a few assets to find another scorer that this team so badly needs.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect more speculation over possible summer moves by the Canadiens in the coming days. I doubt very much Bergevin will be contacting Mike Babcock. For all the complaints about Therrien by some Montreal fans and pundits, Bergevin has confidence in his coach, so much so he re-signed him last summer to a four-year extension which kicks in next season. Sure, the deep-pocketed Habs can afford to replace Therrien with Babcock, but I’m not buying into that theory.
I do believe, however, Bergevin must bolster his club’s offense, which was among the league’s worst during the regular season and struggled throughout the postseason. I don’t expect a major roster overhaul, and landing more scoring punch (especially a first-line center) won’t be easy. Still, Bergevin’s proven to be a savvy wheeler-dealer in not giving up too much to get pieces to help his club. Don’t be surprised if he targets cap-strapped teams like Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Philadelphia or the New York Rangers in search of either a scorer or perhaps another skilled top-four defenseman if he’s unable to re-sign Petry.
Bergevin doesn’t have a lot of cap space to take on additional salary, especially with Alex Galchenyuk and perhaps Petry to re-sign, which could mean shipping out a couple of players under contract to make it work. Prior to the trade deadline, there was speculation Lars Eller and Alexei Emelin were being shopped. It’ll be interesting to see if their names pop up again in the rumor mill following the playoffs.
Latest on the Flames.
CALGARY HERALD: George Johnson notes re-signing team captain Mark Giordano and inking young stars Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett to new contracts within the next two years will prove expensive. Johnson wonders if management could consider shipping out some veterans like Jiri Hudler (whose trade value would be high right now) or goalie Jonas Hiller to free up some cap space.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis reports Flames GM Brad Treliving wants to add depth to his defense, intends on re-signing Mark Giordano as well as RFAs like Lance Bouma and Mikael Backlund, but remains mum as to his goaltending. Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio are under contract for next season, while Karri Ramo is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fortunately for the Flames, they have a lot of cap space (over $25 million) for 2015-16, so there’s no reason to make hasty moves. Yes, re-signing Giordano (who’ll likely get over $7 million annually) will eat up a big chunk, but that won’t kick in until 2016-17. Re-signing Backlund, Bouma, Micheal Ferland and Josh Jooris will take up additonal space but they won’t be expensive. I expect Treliving could target cap-strapped teams for defensive depth, but I doubt he’ll go on a huge spending spree as he knows he must leave sufficient space to re-sign his young stars.
Treliving could trade Hiller and re-sign Ramo, but a Ramo-Ortio tandem might not play up to expectations next season. Say what you will about Hiller, but he won them 26 games this season. Unless the plan is to replace Hiller with a better starter, the Flames are better off keeping him. He only has a year left on his contract, so it’s not as though they’re stuck with him long term. I doubt Treliving ships out Hudler, who has incredible chemistry with Gaudreau and Monahan. Indeed, a three-year contract extension at $5 million per season might be workable for him.