The Habs aren’t waiting for Wednesday’s deadline to tender their qualifying offers. Instead, they announced on Saturday that five of the eight eligible players received an offer to allow Montreal to retain their rights.
Players receiving an offer are:
C Max Domi
W Charles Hudon
D Noah Juulsen
D Victor Mete
D Xavier Ouellet
There aren’t any big surprises here. Domi and Mete were no-brainers to qualify, even if their futures with the team are in at least a bit of question. Domi is eligible for salary arbitration and while he’s coming off of a down season that saw him collect 44 points, his 72-point campaign from 2018-19 will certainly play a factor should the two sides go to a hearing.
Even though Juulsen has missed big chunks of the last two seasons due to his recurring headaches and migraines, it still seemed to be a near-certainty that he’d be tendered an offer. He got into 13 games with Laval including their final one which was enough to get him an invite to the Return to Play training camp. He’s eligible for waivers next season and while he certainly has some upside, it’s not a guarantee he’d be claimed either considering how much time he missed.
Hudon and Ouellet are both players that are hoping for a bigger role than what Montreal will be willing to provide. Both want to be full-time NHL players but have shown they can’t do that with the Canadiens. While it was possible they could have opted to non-tender them to give them a chance to catch on elsewhere (and avoid any arbitration risk in the process), they’ve opted to keep them around for now although both could certainly be trade candidates.
Three players were not given an offer and will become unrestricted free agents on Friday. Those are:
C Aaron Luchuk
W Andrew Sturtz
W Antoine Waked
If you’re not familiar with the first two, they weren’t in the organization for long. They were acquired as matching contracts in the trades with Ottawa for Matthew Peca and Mike Reilly. Waked, meanwhile, signed with Montreal as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and never made it past being a fourth liner in three years with Laval.
With these qualifiers and the 41 players under contract already, the Habs have now encumbered 46 of the 50 allowable contract slots for next season. Accordingly, if they plan to do much in free agency or on the trade front, they’ll probably be looking to move out a signed player or two along the way to ensure they have some wiggle room for in-season additions.