Gustav Olofsson didn’t get much of a chance to make an impression on the Habs after they acquired him last October. He’ll get a chance to make a better one now after Montreal signed him to a one-year, two-way contract on Friday. The deal pays him the league minimum $700,000 in the NHL and $235,000 in Laval with a total guarantee of $300,000. This means that he accepted an amount lower than his $813,500 (two-way) qualifying offer.
Injuries have been an issue for Olofsson, especially when it comes to his shoulders. He was injured in his first preseason game with Minnesota and was promptly waived after getting cleared to return. Upon going through unclaimed, the Habs flipped forward prospect Will Bitten for him with the hopes that Olofsson would serve as NHL-capable depth, similar to what they were hoping for from Brett Kulak. Instead, Olofsson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in his second game with the Rocket.
As things stand for next season, the 24-year-old is likely on the outside looking in when it comes to landing a roster spot with Montreal. However, if he can stay healthy (and that’s a big if), he’ll be well-positioned for a recall if someone with the Habs gets hurt or struggles. Olofsson has 56 NHL games under his belt from his time with the Wild so it’s not as if he’ll be a raw rookie if gets brought up.
All of a sudden, Montreal’s left side defensive depth with the Rocket is pretty good. Olofsson and Xavier Ouellet are two capable players while youngsters Otto Leskinen and David Sklenicka are in the mix as well. Karl Alzner also may be back if they decide to not buy him out and are unable to find a taker in a trade. The Canadiens’ left side depth isn’t particularly strong but there will be some capable recall options on the farm if nothing else.
With the signing, the Habs now have 40 players under contract for next season with eight restricted free agents on the books. Considering they’ll likely look to add a player or two in unrestricted free agency, there’s a good chance that quite a few of their RFAs won’t be tendered a qualifying offer after the draft.