The Habs are quickly whittling down their list of restricted free agents. After re-signing Victor Mete earlier in the day, they announced that they’ve inked Xavier Ouellet to a two-year, two-way contract. The deal, which carries a $737,500 cap hit, breaks down as follows:
2020-21: $725,000 NHL, $425,000 AHL
2021-22: $750,000 NHL, $450,000 AHL
The 27-year-old defenceman has spent the last two years in Montreal’s system after being bought out by Detroit. He has spent the majority of that time with Laval but he has gotten into 31 games with the Canadiens over that time, including a dozen this past season where he had two assists while averaging just under 14 minutes per game. He was a lot more productive with the Rocket, tallying nine goals and 15 assists in 39 games.
With Montreal moving Marco Scandella to St. Louis at the trade deadline and Karl Alzner (who had been up down the stretch) opting out of the NHL’s return, Ouellet became a regular for the Habs in the playoffs, suiting up in all ten games and played a bigger role than Mete, effectively become their fifth defenceman.
While that might seemingly bode well for his NHL hopes next season, the Canadiens have already brought in Joel Edmundson while Alexander Romanov is expected to have a role quickly. Noah Juulsen is also in the mix as well so at this point, Ouellet seems like a probable candidate to return to Laval. He’ll be well-compensated for playing for the Rocket if that happens, with a bit of job security for his troubles.
Montreal is starting to creep close to the contract limit. They now have 45 committed contracts out of 50 with Charles Hudon still to sign as their lone remaining restricted free agent. That leaves a bit of room for another free agent or two but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Habs try to move a signed player or two out at some point to give them some wiggle room.