Sports

Eight pesky contracts for Kent Hughes

Jeff Gorton said recently in an interview that the Canadiens were not necessarily in a period of reconstruction because there were talented, gifted skaters among the squad, capable of contributing significantly to the revival of concession.

But, it is also realistic. When you are entrusted with a business with a historic past, when you walk around the property, you know that there will be changes to be made.

How will we proceed?

By increasing the budget? By adapting the company to a new management technology at the level of the workforce and also at the level of the various departments?

So far, Gorton and his managing partner, Kent Hughes, have met the deadlines.

It has been confirmed that Martin St-Louis will be at the helm of the team for the next three seasons.

Changes have been made to recruiters. We have created a department whose specialty will be advanced statistics. We will soon name a new assistant coach.

The public relations and media department has undergone much needed changes.

And, in terms of player personnel, a few veterans have jumped ship. We’ve started the shift by giving responsibilities to skaters who aren’t very experienced and we plan to continue this policy as of next fall.

Need for flexibility

So far, we can, in light of the actions taken by decision-makers, recognize that we are following the business model concocted by the Gorton/Hughes duo to the letter.

But the hardest part is yet to come. A recovery plan must also include flexibility in terms of budget and financial commitments. Contracts that interfere with this plan must be ruled out.

How do you progress quickly when you don’t have room to maneuver to hire a top player?

How can we deal with a salary cap causing pitfalls rather than providing practical and important solutions for reviving the business?

While Gorton and Hughes made a lot of waves at the amateur draft, they were quiet when the unrestricted free agent market opened.

Correct past mistakes

On the one hand, they no longer had the means to spend and also because they chose, with good reason, to solve the problems internally.

So we have to succeed in correcting the errors of the former administration in terms of financial commitments. A colossal exercise.

Here are contracts that cause a lot of worries for administrators.

BRENDAN GALLAGHER, 30 years old

$6.5M per season

Until the end of 2026-2027

2022 NHL Draft

He had 14 goals and nine assists last season. In 2019-20, he scored 22 goals and had 21 assists in 59 games. A passionate player, but who over the past few seasons has been slowed down by injuries. He had his best seasons alongside Phillip Danault except that we realize at Gallagher that resources are dwindling. Is there a team that might be interested in Gallagher? Certainly, but the Canadian would be obliged to pay a high percentage of the salary of this winger.

MIKE HOFFMAN, 32 years old

$4.5M per season

Until the end of 2023-2024

2022 NHL Draft

Here is a player who had not found a buyer until Marc Bergevin offered him a dream contract, $13.5 million for three years. But, across the league, we know Hoffman’s strengths and weaknesses. In terms of defensive protection, he is very vulnerable. In attack, he can give a little luster to the attack with five, but the collective game does not belong so much to his vocabulary. Is there any point in a player commanding a salary that is way too high for what he can bring to the team? Perhaps a team looking for a player to reach the salary floor.

PAUL BYRON, 33 years old

$3.4M per season

Until the end of 2022-2023

2022 NHL Draft

He is seriously handicapped by an injury. It is even believed that he could end his career. He no longer fits into the training plans and if he manages to return to competition, he will have a hard time breaking into the current training. Obviously, Kent Hughes does not anticipate an offer from another team. The Canadian will therefore have to settle for completing the present agreement, therefore a commitment of $3.4 million for the next season. For the moment, it is the unknown relative to the plans of the organization and relative to the player himself. We will wait until the start of training camp before deciding, and the doctors will also have to render a verdict.

JOEL ARMIA, 29 years old

$3.4M per season

Until the end of 2024-2025

2022 NHL Draft

An enigmatic player. In Winnipeg, he occupied a position in the fourth line of attack, unable to climb the ranks within a formation relying on several talented forwards. At the Canadian, sometimes, he showed great things. He has a solid build and his trainer can use him in different situations. The problem is that he too often lacks fighting spirit. He can experience very long sequences without being able to tell the difference. For a team trying to make the playoffs, he may be a deadline-to-deal candidate. But beware, he still has two years to go on his agreement and that could cool the ardor of the general managers.

CHRISTIAN DVORAK, 26 years old

$4.45M per season

Until the end of 2024-2025

2022 NHL Draft

A special case. Can we say that the last season allowed Dvorak to show what he can bring to the team? He missed 26 games, he finished the season with 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points. He is a player who deserves to be better known. He gradually won the trust of Martin St-Louis. If we’re thinking of using him as a center player on the third line, it’s interesting, especially since he is constantly improving in the face-off circle and can evolve as much on the power play as on numerical inferiority. In the trading market, he can definitely catch the eye of a few formations due to his versatility and age. The Canadian should give him the opportunity to play another season with the formation.

JONATHAN DROUIN, 27 years old

$5.5M per season

Until the end of 2022-2023

2022 NHL Draft

It was believed that the Canadian had made a good move by trading Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the services of Jonathan Drouin who had just completed a 53-point season. Except that injuries and other events have clearly distorted the situation. A record of 15 goals and 43 assists in 105 games over the past three seasons. Nothing to justify such a transaction since the Lightning defender occupies a leading position with Tampa Bay and Drouin has never managed to win with the Canadian. What to do ? Hopefully he will regain all his means. He only has one season left on his contract and he is only 27 years old. Except that Drouin no longer has an option. It must meet expectations.

JOSH ANDERSON, 28

$5.5M per season

Until the end of 2026-2027

2022 NHL Draft

A player whose name has been the subject of several rumors over the past few weeks, and it’s no wonder. Impressive size, fast skater, a power forward, a player who can have a major impact during the playoffs. A good leader too. His contract is imposing, and that invites general managers to be cautious. Can we embark on such an investment knowing that the player can sometimes experience long periods without scoring? Nineteen goals in 69 games last year is not much. A differential of -35 over the past two seasons. He stole the top-six right-wing position from Gallagher, however, and that was to be expected. Unless there is an attractive offer, the Canadian will be very cautious in negotiations with the other teams on the circuit.

CAREY PRICE, 34 years old

$10.5M per season

Until the end of 2025-2026

2022 NHL Draft

Starting next year, Price’s salary will range between $7.5 million and $8.5 million, but $10.5 million will have to be put on the salary cap. He is the highest earner on the team. Since the first year of his contract in 2018-19, he has played 149 games. Over the past three years, he has played 88 games, five last year. Injuries and personal issues have raised many questions about Price’s impact with the Canadiens. The one who will celebrate his 35th birthday next month, can he still help his team? Yes. The problem is that we do not know if he will be able to justify such a salary. Does he want to continue with a team in a period of reconstruction? Again, there is reason to ask the question. A contract so imposing that we do not believe among the decision-makers that we will be able to exchange the goalkeeper. But we never know. So there’s retirement, or putting his name on the injury list for a long time.

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