Shea Weber

AP

Habs have available cap space to help remedy pressing roster needs

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This post is part of Canadiens Day on PHT…

It’s been a particularly interesting time for Marc Bergevin as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

It really snowballed in June of 2016 with the P.K. Subban trade and the fallout from that, and has continued this offseason with a trade for Jonathan Drouin to help bring additional scoring to Montreal, the loss of Alex Radulov and Andrei Markov, and signing goalie Carey Price to an eight-year, $84 million contract extension that kicks in for the 2018-19 season.

Losing Radulov takes an offensively gifted player out of the lineup, while the club paid a massive amount of money to keep Price in Montreal through 2026.

There were many question marks for Bergevin and the Habs this summer. As discussed earlier today at PHT, one of the biggest dilemmas they may face is up the middle and much of that may depend on the continued development and usage of Alex Galchenyuk.

Yet, Bergevin may still be able to address that before the start of the regular season.

Montreal has about $8.46 million available in cap space, not to mention an additional second-round pick previously belonging to the Chicago Blackhawks, according to CapFriendly.

On the prospect of Bergevin perhaps making another move, Elliotte Friedman recently had some interesting comments to the NHL Network, according to FanRagSports:

“I think you guys a few minutes ago played the key clip, and that is that (Markov) was asked to wait until September or October,” said Friedman. “I get the impression that you’ve got Marc Bergevin sitting here with a lot of cap space and I think he’s sitting on something, or some ideas. And I’m not necessarily saying that he’s going to do something big, but I think he’s dreaming big.

“You talked about the trade earlier this year – the Sergachev-for-Drouin deal – I don’t think that trade happens if they aren’t trying to do something after what was a nightmare year for them last year to change the impression of the organization in the province.”

The Habs will enter next season after a first-round playoff exit to the New York Rangers. Of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason, Montreal had the third worst scoring average, at 1.83 goals-for per game.

This season is likely to come with added pressure for both the Canadiens and Bergevin.

Price, who turns 30 years old next Wednesday, is in the final year of his current contract that has a still reasonable $6.5 million cap hit. When his new deal kicks in, his cap hit will rise to $10.5 million, which means him and Shea Weber will account for $18.35 million against the cap. That amounts to 24 per cent of the current $75 million ceiling in place for the 2017-18 campaign.

“There’s a saying we use: Goalies are not important until you don’t have one,” Bergevin told the Montreal Gazette last month.

“I’ve seen what’s going on around the league with teams who are looking for goaltenders and it’s really hard to do. So it’s a position that’s hard to find and we have in my opinion, in our opinion, one of the best in the business if not the best, so we’re going to keep him and make sure he’s here for the rest of his career.”

That took care of one long-term need.

The Habs still have others heading into the upcoming season, like possibly having to find a No. 1 center, or finding another talented player to improve this team offensively. The available cap space adds another level of intrigue.

Predators spend big on Ryan Johansen: eight years, $64M

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Much was made about Ryan Johansen really establishing himself as a No. 1 center who could compete with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Toews during the Nashville Predators’ 2017 Stanley Cup Final run.

The Predators will pay him as such, as they announced a whopping eight-year, $64 million contract on Friday. That’s $8M per season for Johansen, who turns 25 on July 31.

It’s the largest deal signed in franchise history, although that can feel a touch misleading in how it really functions. After all, P.K. Subban‘s cap hit is higher at $9M and they once matched that massive Shea Weber offer sheet. The bottom line is that Johansen joins Subban and Pekka Rinne ($7M) as Nashville’s most expensive players.

The trio of Johansen, Filip Forsberg ($6M), and Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25M) carries a combined cap hit of $18.25 million.

News of Johansen signing a new deal first came from The Tennessean’s Adam Vignan.

Check out this post about how impressive the Predators’ salary structure looked before Johansen’s deal came down. Cap Friendly estimates that Nashville’s cap space goes down to $5.44 million after the signing, which adds some risk to this group but still looks wisely constructed overall.

Johansen raves about Nashville after signing big deal with Predators

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Hey, Ryan Johansen already had a reason to be happy going into this weekend.

After all, today is his dog’s birthday and Johansen’s 25th comes on Monday. That would have been a good reason to pop some champagne (and hand out some special canine treats) in itself.

Apologies to his pooch, but the best thing that happened today drew headlines: the Nashville Predators handed out their richest deal* to Johansen on Friday: an eight-year, $64 million contract.

You might not be shocked that Johansen said this is “probably one of the best days of my life right now,” according to NHL.com’s Robby Stanley. It doesn’t hurt that Johansen gets the opportunity to stay in Nashville, a city that was deep into a hockey frenzy during the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Those are some great pleasantries, and there’s little reason to deny Johansen. Nick Bonino could attest, as he went from the Penguins to the Predators in part because of Nashville, claiming that there were better deals out there.

It’s probably more important that Johansen is healthy after the scary thigh issue that abruptly ended his playoff run, and Brooks Bratten of the Predators’ website notes that Johansen believes everything is going well and according to the plan.

That’s a promising update, especially since expectations will be high considering the price tag on that new deal. After taking a big step this past season, Johansen must prove himself once more, now that he’s one of the most expensive centers in the NHL.

On the bright side, even if he stumbles and becomes the object of some criticism … he’ll at least have that cash and good ‘ol Doug.

* – Again, P.K. Subban carries a higher cap hit (but was traded to Nashville) and Shea Weber cost more overall (yet the Flyers “signed” him to an offer sheet), so it’s sort of semantics thing. The important thing to remember is that it was a lot of cash.

Jonathan Drouin goes undercover — which he won’t be able to do much longer in Montreal

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There is a video making the rounds online right now of Jonathan Drouin interviewing Montreal Canadiens fans about Jonathan Drouin.

His disguise of choice? A black T-shirt. Equipped with a Habs microphone, Drouin goes around asking folks in both English and French what they think of the team’s new additions this offseason and about how many points their recently acquired and signed 22-year-old skilled forward may get — among other hard-hitting inquiries.

Based on the video evidence, some fans seem to recognize him after a short conversation. Others don’t before the big reveal is made.

One fan’s advice: “Don’t take Montreal too seriously.”

While the premise of the video is for Drouin to be right out in the open acting as a team reporter yet incognito at the same time, it would be foolish to think the pressure on him next season won’t be anything short of immense. He was born in Ste-Agathe, Quebec, which is just a short drive northwest from Montreal. Per the Montreal Gazette, he grew up spending summers on the West Island of Montreal. He’s a hometown player for the Habs.

As to be expected in a trade of this magnitude, the Canadians paid a price to land Drouin from the Lightning, parting ways with prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, selected ninth overall last year. The Habs then signed their new acquisition to a six-year, $33 million contract following his breakout 21-goal, 53-point season in Tampa Bay.

The Habs have bulked up on defense over the last few years, acquiring Shea Weber and then signing Karl Alzner this summer. Their success has hinged mostly on the play — and health — of their goalie Carey Price, who was in turn paid a historic amount in his latest contract extension.

For all their efforts to bolster that element of their game, the Habs need dynamic offensive players. They sent that type of player in P.K. Subban to Nashville last year to get Weber. Montreal’s offensive attack during the regular season was middle of the pack for the NHL, 15th in goals-for per game at 2.72. In the playoffs? In six games, they averaged just 1.83 goals-for per game against the Rangers and were eliminated.

Keep in mind, as well, that they lost Alex Radulov during free agency. Back in the NHL after a four-year stint in the KHL, Radulov was responsible for 18 goals and 54 points, before he cashed in with the Dallas Stars.

There are others that can help carry the burden of offensive production. If Paul Byron could duplicate — or come close to duplicating — what he did a year ago, that would be a huge boost. Alex Galchenyuk is only 23 years old but has a 30-goal season under his belt already. Max Pacioretty has five 30-goal seasons, including four in a row.

But the Habs were in need of another highly skilled and speedy forward and that’s what they have in Drouin. He’s young, which is also a plus. He’s coming off a solid year with the Bolts, with the promise for greater things in the future. He has already discussed the pressure he’ll face playing in Montreal. He believes he will “thrive” in this situation.

Playing for the Habs, it will be impossible for Drouin to remain anonymous.

PHT Morning Skate: Shayne Corson opens up about his battle with anxiety

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–There’s still a number of restricted free agents still unsigned by their respective teams, which means that each of those players could receive an offer sheet. This prompted Sean McIndoe to look back at 11 instances where offer sheets were matched. Shea Weber signed a lucrative deal with the Flyers, but Nashville didn’t let him walk away so easily. (Sportsnet)

–The Devils couldn’t find the right trade partner for forward Ilya Kovalchuk, so he’ll be going back to the KHL for one more year. If he wants to come back to the NHL next year,  he’ll be able to do so as an unrestricted free agent. He’ll be one of the best forwards available on July 1st. The Score looks at some of the other big names that could be had via free agency next year. Guys like Evander Kane, John Tavares and James van Riemsdyk will also be available. (The Score)

–Former NHL Shayne Corson has been dealing with anxiety throughout his life and career. He didn’t tell many people about it, but it affected him in a big way. “There’s no time frame on anxiety. You don’t know if it’s ever going to end. You don’t know if you’re going to get out of it, or how you’re going to get out of it. Some days, it’s almost like you want to rip your skin off. I’d start pacing. You want to get out of your body but you don’t know how. Your heart starts racing.” (Toronto Sun)

–Now that most of the unrestricted free agents have signed contracts, USA Today breaks down six key story lines to keep an eye on. Will Colorado finally deal Matt Duchene? Does John Tavares agree to an extension with the Islanders? Where will Jaromir Jagr end up? (USA Today)

–The Dallas Stars were able to work out a deal with Alexander Radulov, so the Dallas Morning News broke down 10 things you might not know about the Russian winger. Radulov played junior hockey in Quebec, and he lived with hall-of-fame goalie Patrick Roy for a while. (Dallas Morning News)

Patrick Marleau‘s wife, Christina, posted a baby picture of her husband in a Maple Leafs jersey: