After reports surfaced last week that the Habs were set to sign Czech blueliner Jakub Jerabek, the team made it official on Monday, signing him to a one year, entry level contract. The deal will carry a cap hit of $925,000 in the NHL and $70,000 at the AHL level.
Jerabek recently wrapped up his first KHL season and it was a strong one. In 59 games with Vityaz Chekhov, he picked up five goals along with 29 assists to go along with 56 PIMS, 30 hits, and 56 blocked shots while averaging 21:47 of ice time per night. Prior to this past season, he had spent the previous seven seasons with Plzen of the Czech Extraliga.
In February, it was reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie that Jerabek was drawing considerable interest around the league. Last month, his agent Allan Walsh announced that he was mulling over offers from several teams.
Jerabek isn’t the biggest or most physical of blueliners as he checks in at just 5’11 but is a good skater and puck mover, two elements that are becoming more and more important for defenders nowadays. Given that there were several suitors for his services, it’s unlikely that he’s crossing the pond to play in Laval which makes it likely that he’s with Montreal next season.
While on the surface it may seem like there’s a logjam on the back end (especially on the left side where Jerabek plays), there are a lot of questions heading into the offseason. Andrei Markov’s a pending unrestricted free agent while Nathan Beaulieu is a restricted free agent and is one many are speculating could be dealt. Alexei Emelin has one year left on his deal and also could potentially be moved while it seems unlikely that Nikita Nesterov will be retained. It remains to be seen where Jerabek will slot in but there should be room for him by the time the team wraps up training camp in October.
Although the roster has yet to be finalized, Jerabek has a strong chance of suiting up for the Czechs in the upcoming World Championships where he’ll play alongside Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec.