The Habs brought in some more depth down the middle on Wednesday, signing centre Phil Varone to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay him the league minimum $700,000 in the NHL and $450,000 in the AHL.
The 28-year-old played in a career-high 47 NHL games with the Flyers last season, albeit in a very limited role. He had just seven points in those contests while averaging just under eight minutes of playing time per night.
However, while he hasn’t been much of a scorer in the NHL, he has been a strong producer in the minors. In 22 games with Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate, he registered 11 goals and 17 assists. Two years ago, he finished second in league scoring (to former Laval winger Chris Terry) and took home MVP honours.
On the surface, it seems quite likely that Varone will be earmarked to play a key role in Laval who all of a sudden has some impressive centre depth with youngsters Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki also potentially joining them for next season. At the very least, he and fellow newcomer Riley Barber give them a pretty strong one-two punch up front, something they lacked for most of last season.
Montreal now has 42 committed contracts for 2019-20 with four other players sitting as restricted free agents. (That number does not include Sebastian Aho, whose deal with Montreal has yet to be officially matched and likely won’t happen until Monday.)