Marc Bergevin secured Jonathan Drouin via trade last week, but still has some key business left to accomplish during this off-season for the Montreal Canadiens.
Franchise goaltender Carey Price can be inked to a contract extension as early as July 1.
Alexander Radulov is an unrestricted free agent and needs a new deal.
Alex Galchenyuk is a restricted free agent and either needs a new contract or, perhaps more likely, a new home.
Oh – and the team needs to find a way to score more goals.
One piece of business Bergevin did accomplish over the weekend was trading defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick.
Beaulieu is a pending RFA who is eligible for arbitration, and there were definitely some Canadiens fans not that happy with the return in that swap.
“I’m sure that Marc Bergevin has been trying for awhile to move him,” said NHL Insider Bob McKenzie during a Monday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690. “The problem that you’re running into now is there are so many potential players available in trade. So basically anybody who is left unprotected could be had.
“And what I mean by that is if you can’t cut a deal with the team that left him unprotected, then you can maybe cut a deal with Vegas to pick that player and give them something in exchange for it. So there’s kind of a glut on the market right now. It’s probably not an ideal time to be trading a defenseman.
“And what it said to me was that Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens had gone as far as they were going to go with Nathan Beaulieu, and that in their minds a third-round pick was the best they can do.
“Now, in terms of what the Montreal Canadiens defense is going to look like – you can’t judge just yet. I’m not prepared to criticize the Beaulieu trade until I see what other piece of the puzzle Marc Bergevin either has in place or will put in place. I know they tried real hard to get Marco Scandella out of Minnesota over the past number of days. They weren’t able to do that. Scandella is now apparently available in the expansion draft to Vegas, along with Matt Dumba – unless Minnesota cuts a deal with Vegas or has cut a deal with Vegas to protect that and not lose them.
“So the challenge then becomes for Marc Bergevin – well, if you want Scandella and couldn’t get him from Minnesota, maybe you can call George McPhee, do a deal with him and have them select (Scandella) – unless, as I said, a deal is already in place with Minnesota.
“So it’s going to be an interesting week. I think we’ve got to wait before we say the Canadiens made a bad deal for Beaulieu to see how all of the pieces fit together. If they use that third-round pick to go get another defenseman to get a defenseman that’s better than Beaulieu, maybe they’ve done a better job. If they don’t do anything at all – well then, I think most Canadiens fans would say the Canadiens defense isn’t as good if you just subtract Beaulieu from it.”
Later on in the appearance, the conversation shifted toward Radulov and where things stand on the contract negotiation front, and the possibility of the veteran winger perhaps signing with the Golden Knights instead of the Canadiens.
Vegas is in the midst of an exclusive 72-hour window to negotiate with unprotected unrestricted free agents like Radulov and unprotected restricted free agents.
“The cone of silence is pretty much down on Radulov,” began McKenzie. “What we know is that there was no chance Montreal could or would sign him before the expansion draft because he would be one more player they’d have to protect.
“I’m sure that the Montreal Canadiens are going to be very sensitive to the fact that term is an issue. I’m sure that initially, he was probably looking for a home run – six, seven, eight years. Take your pick from one of those numbers.
“I’m sure the Montreal Canadiens are saying, ‘Not a chance in the world we’re going any longer than – we’d like one or two, but we know that’s not possible.’ So I’m thinking Montreal doesn’t want to go any more than three years.
“So I think term will be an issue. And because Vegas is in a unique position – they’ve already got Shipachyov, the 30-year-old Russian center that they signed. They don’t have cap issues. They don’t need to worry as much about the dollars and cents. And if they do want to try to ice a competitive team sooner rather than later on that front – quite aside from the asset harvesting that they’re doing, that they’re putting a premium on over selecting players that’ll actually play – then they’re in a unique position to actually give Radulov more years and more money than the Montreal Canadiens could.
“The Montreal Canadiens, as I said… because Radulov would be signing at least a three-year deal and maybe longer, we need to know what is Carey Price’s number going to be. That’s what I’m curious to find out. Because everything will flow from that in terms of how much money you’ve got to spend and how you’re going to go about it.
“But you guys are right and you guys know the drill as well as I do – if at the end of the day Jonathan Drouin was added and Radulov was subtracted and Galchenyuk may or may not be subtracted – keeping in mind there’s a value on what you get back for a Galchenyuk if he gets traded – there’s going to be a lot of unhappy Montreal Canadiens fans.”
One variable that Bergevin and his 30 general manager counterparts now have locked in place – which helps with negotiating new contracts and making trades – is that the team payroll range has been established for 2017-18.
The Lower Limit will be $55.4 million, the Adjusted Midpoint will be $65.2 million, and the Upper Limit will be $75 million.
Source: TSN 690