A 1-3-0 start for the Montreal Canadiens has been less than ideal, but general manager Marc Bergevin does have some cap space with which to play when he’s ready to pull the trigger to bolster his lineup.
The focal point for the criticism of this team during the off-season (and before) was a perceived lack of offense, and with only five goals in those four affairs thus far the worries have slowly become reality.
So can the approximately $8 million in cap space available to the Canadiens be converted into an asset?
“Perhaps. It really depends on a lot of other factors,” cautioned NHL Insider Bob McKenzie during a Wednesday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690. “The Montreal Canadiens at various times have had interest in Matt Duchene. I haven’t had the sense lately that that’s been a front-burner thing for them or the Colorado Avalanche. But when you look at Duchene’s money, $6 million, you’re thinking, ‘Okay, well there’s an above-average offensive hockey player in the National Hockey League who can probably help Montreal, but what do you have to give up to get him?’
“And I just don’t necessarily see a trade fit. So it’s great to have the cap space, but you’ve got to have a dance partner where it fits more than just on your side of it from a financial perspective. You don’t just get to add a $6 million player who can score goals or generate offense, and not give up something else. And right now I don’t see the Montreal Canadiens having what the Colorado Avalanche are looking for, or being willing to beat that price – like a lot of teams, I guess, which is part of the reason Duchene hasn’t been traded yet.
“So I’m not sure where else there’s an outlet for spending money. It’s kind of a unique situation for a big market NHL team like the Montreal Canadiens that traditionally spend right to the cap to have all that space. I mean, let’s face it: that money was originally earmarked for Radulov or Markov and due to the circumstances that we’ve talked about over and over again, neither one of those guys ended up in the fold.
“And it’s kind of a mirage too because you’ve got $8 million now, but you’ve not going to have it next year. So that again comes back to there aren’t very many short term fixes this season that you can apply that $8 million to that wouldn’t impact you negatively next year.”
To McKenzie’s point, Carey Price’s eight-year, $84 million contract extension kicks in next season. That’ll take away $4 million in cap space on its own when you weigh the new dollar amount against the current $6.5 million cap hit.
Among the contracts coming off the books for the Canadiens, though, include Tomas Plekanec’s $6 million.
Duchene, a point to which McKenzie alluded, carries a $6 million cap hit this season and next.