The Habs have made a move in advance of free agency but it’s not one many were expecting. Montreal has added winger Joel Armia, goalie Steve Mason, and a pair of draft picks from Winnipeg in exchange for Simon Bourque.
Armia hasn’t lived up to his draft billing (16th overall in 2011) but he is coming off of his best NHL season, one that saw him collect 12 goals and 17 assists in 79 regular season games while adding a pair of goals in 13 postseason contests. He’s a pending restricted free agent and should slot in nicely in Montreal’s bottom six for the next couple of years at least; he has two years of team control remaining.
Mason is a pure salary dump for Winnipeg with Armia and the draft picks (a 2019 7th and a 2020 4th) being the compensation for taking him on. He has one year left on his contract with a $4.1 million cap hit and word is that the Canadiens are already shopping him and are willing to retain some money to help facilitate a move.
Interestingly enough, Montreal is effectively helping Winnipeg sign one of the players they were targeting in free agency in centre Paul Stastny. Stastny is believed to want to remain with the Jets but they didn’t have enough cap space to retain him and handle their other free agents as well. While it appears that the Habs will be striking out on one of their targets, at least they’re being compensated for it.
Bourque’s departure isn’t a huge concern and basically feels like a contract dump more than the Jets actually targeting him. He struggled mightily with Laval this past season and with the additions of David Sklenicka and Michal Moravcik this summer, it wasn’t looking likely that he’d be seeing much playing time with the Rocket in 2018-19.