With the draft now over, it’s time to shift our attention to free agency
which kicks off on Tuesday afternoon. By now everyone knows the top names
on the market but is that where the Habs should be focusing? Are there
some potential diamonds in the rough? Our writers weigh in with their
picks on who they’d like to see Marc Bergevin try to sign.
Writers were not allowed to choose a pending Montreal free agent for this
question, the choice had to come from outside the organization.
Simon Aronson: The one UFA player I would like to see the
Canadiens sign this off-season is Jarome Iginla. While some people may debate
how realistic this is, I see no reason why they could not sign him, providing he
would like to play in Montreal, but that can be said about any UFA. Iginla would
be the answer to the need for a top-6 right winger with size and grit without
the effort issues that come with Thomas Vanek. At 36 years old I believe Iginla
has a few more good seasons in the tank after what has been a relatively
Coming off his latest contract with the Bruins, Iginla has shown that he is
willing to do short term deals. Montreal should be a relatively attractive
destination as it is one of the Meccas of the game with unsurpassed fan
enthusiasm as well as a good young core that boasts an elite goalie and a
Norris-winning defenceman. I would have no problem offering Iginla two years at
$6 million per. Now the only question is how to free up the money (possibly
letting Gionta walk) and how to entice him.
Brian La Rose: Size and skill is a need inside the top six.
Sadly, there aren’t many players like that available so finding the right fit is
going to be hard…and pricey. One below-the-radar option is winger Milan
Michalek. At 29, his best days aren’t behind him and at 6’2, he would be a
big upgrade size-wise on the right wind. He’s coming off of a down year
which might lower his asking price a tad but previously, he has been fairly
reliable. In the last seven full seasons, he has had no fewer than 17
goals in a year (2013-14) and has surpassed the 20-goal plateau five times.
Although he won’t make too much of an impact physically, Michalek can also take
a regular turn on the penalty kill which is a nice bonus. He wouldn’t be a
flashy addition but I believe he would be an effective one.
Alex Létourneau: Jarome Iginla would be a terrific addition.
He’s got that pedigree, he’s tough as nails and he can fill the net in the
regular season and during the playoffs. I think Boston would be fools to not
re-sign him, even if it might be at $6+ million. He’s a top six guy that will
add a different dimension to the attack. Another option, which I think is more
likely, is Matt Moulson. He is another natural goal scorer though he doesn’t
have what Iginla offers but is still gifted around the net and on the powerplay.
His play was disconcerting during the postseason, and will probably cost him
some money come July 1, but he would be a weapon on either of the top two lines
Matt Macaskill: I’d sign Mason Raymond. He’s likely be one of
the more affordable UFA wingers available and could be a decent replacement for
Brian Gionta should the Captain sign elsewhere. Raymond is a great skater that
should fit into the lineup with ease. It wouldn’t surprise me if he developed
chemistry with either Tomas Plekanec or Lars Eller. He’s also shown offensive
upside in both Vancouver and Toronto, which would provide Montreal with more
scoring depth throughout the season.
Kevin Meldrum: I would rather see them add a top-6 forward, but
I would say that player is more likely obtained in a trade. A guy who I
really like is Brian Boyle; he is very strong on the draws, good on the penalty
kill, has great size, and lots of character. He would be a perfect fit for this
team rounding out the bottom six with a really good mix of speed, skill, and
Norm Szcyrek: Ales Hemsky is a player I believe the Habs could
possibly make their big UFA acquisition this summer. Although he’s languished in
Edmonton the last few seasons with a terrible team, and has been injury prone at
times during his career, he still remains a highly skilled player with about
average size. Once he was traded to Ottawa he blossomed offensively with 17
points in 20 games. He doesn’t appear to be an offensive "leader" or "go to guy"
per se, but if he’s coupled with the right two linemates (eg. Desharnais &
Pacioretty) who are on par with his talent I believe he could flourish. He can
play right wing, which is his natural position and a big need for the Habs top
line. The Habs have a distinct lack of depth at forward in the immediate future,
so filling spots with players who can contribute will have to come through free
agency. This summer will be an important time for Marc Bergevin and the Habs in
order to improve their squad for next season.
Who do you think the Habs will sign? Make your picks in our annual