HabsWorld.net -- 

With free agency almost upon us, it’s time to
take a look at exactly what the Montreal Canadiens have to spend beginning July
1st.  Do they have enough money to go after one of the tier 1 UFA’s and
still have room to bring in another player or two?  This is just one of the
questions that will be answered in the 2008-09 salary analysis.


First, let’s look at who is under contract for
this upcoming season.

Player Cap Hit
Steve Begin $ 1,057,000
Francis Bouillon $ 1,875,000
Jassen Cullimore $ 639,667
Mathieu Dandenault $ 1,725,000
Roman Hamrlik $ 5,500,000
Christopher Higgins $ 1,700,000
Michael Komisarek $ 1,700,000
Sergei Kostitsyn $ 816,667
Tom Kostopoulos $ 900,000
Saku Koivu $ 4,750,000
Alexei Kovalev $ 4,500,000
Maxim Lapierre $ 687,500
Guillaume Latendresse $ 850,000
Andrei Markov $ 5,750,000
Tomas Plekanec $ 1,600,000
Carey Price $ 2,200,000
Tony Salmelainen $ 125,000
Alex Tanguay $ 5,250,000

Those players totaled equals a total of
$41,625,834 (and change) and comprise 16 players on the active roster. 
Note that still to be signed as RFA’s are Josh Gorges, Mikhail Grabovski,
Jaroslav Halak, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Ryan O’Byrne.  That alone will likely
total somewhere between 6-7 million (although I’m sure Kostitsyn’s agent Don
Meehan would argue that the correct range should be higher based on rumblings of
what his client’s contract may be).  For simplicity sake, we’ll go with the
more conservative $6 million dollar figure, bringing the cap hit before UFA’s to
over 47.6 million. 


In training camp, there may be a handful of
spots open for players who finished off their season with the Bulldogs. 
Some of the more notable players appear below:

Player Cap Hit
Mathieu Carle $ 850,000
Kyle Chipchura $ 942,800
Matt D’Agostini $ 500,000
Gregory Stewart $ 491,667
Pavel Valentenko $ 850,000

Whether any of these players crack the roster
or not at the beginning of the season is immaterial, however, some wiggle room
will have to be kept in case of injury.  Most teams want to keep around
$1.5 million in space, which would allow for one of these players to crack the
roster and still leave some emergency room.  Adding in that figure, the
projected cap hit adds up to $49,125,834, a little less than $8 million left to
spend on UFA’s.


I know this isn’t what everyone was hoping to
see by the time you got to this point of the article, but here it is plain and
simple.  If the Habs sign a Sundin or Hossa, it’s pretty much one and done
for them, as their salaries are likely to start with a 7 or higher.  This
obviously means that none of the pending UFA’s off the roster (Patrice Brisebois,
Michael Ryder, Bryan Smolinski, and Mark Streit) will be able to return, unless
there are other roster moves made.  If they lose out on one of the upper
tiered players, then the opportunity exists to possibly bring back any of the
above UFA’s, or possibly a second player off the open market.  

Bob Gainey will have some money at his disposal come July 1st (assuming Sundin
fails to sign before then), but don’t be surprised if there isn’t a whole lot of
new players joining the organization.  There is a very realistic chance
that the summer spending spree may be over in just one fell swoop.  The
time for speculation is about to end, with the free agency period beginning in
less than 48 hours, let the fun begin.