Monday was the deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. While the Habs tendered offers to four players, they also are letting five others go.
Players Receiving Offers
Phillip Danault was the most obvious to be tendered. He has shown himself to be an important part of the Habs and will earn considerably more on his next deal than the $997,500 that his qualifying offer was for. The next date to watch for with him is July 5th, the deadline for players to file for salary arbitration.
Jacob de la Rose getting qualified also comes as little surprise. The trade of Tomas Plekanec back in February allowed him to play a bigger role down the stretch and he acquitted himself relatively well. In a perfect world, he’s back on the fourth line to start next season with at least one new top-six centre in place but he’s at least worth the $761,250 they qualified him for.
Michael McCarron hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations since he was a first round pick. To be honest, it’s fair to suggest he regressed in 2017-18. However, given what they’ve invested in him, it’s not a shocker that they’re going to give him one more chance. He’s a candidate to ultimately sign for less than his $874,125 qualifying offer with the idea of taking a lower NHL salary for more guaranteed AHL money. While he does have to clear waivers next year, he’s not really a big risk to be claimed.
Kerby Rychel is a similar case to McCarron. He hasn’t lived up to his draft billing and didn’t really take a step forward this past season. Clearly, management thought he was worthy of a look when they got him from Toronto and he held his own in four games with Montreal at the end of the year. He also received a QO of $874,125 and will probably take less than that for more AHL pay. The threat of clearing waivers is certainly there for him as he passed through unclaimed back at the end of training camp.
Players Not Receiving Offers
Daniel Carr being non-tendered may come as a shock but this was an expected outcome. His arbitration eligibility killed him here as the Habs justifiably didn’t want to run the risk of him going to hearing and being awarded a salary that’s too high for the depth role he provides for the team. Considering his half-season numbers, he could have had a strong case for a contract close to what former Hab Sven Andrighetto had (a $1.4 million cap hit). That’s too rich for someone who doesn’t project to be a regular so the non-tender was needed. This won’t stop the Habs from trying to sign him for less if they so desire.
Zach Fucale had opportunities to succeed over the past few years and didn’t really do a whole lot with them. Being a platoon backup at the AHL level at the end of an entry-level deal is never a good thing and with Charlie Lindgren and Michael McNiven figuring to be the tandem for the Rocket next season, there wasn’t really room for him to stick around. The writing was further on the wall when they inked Etienne Marcoux to a minor league deal last month.
Jeremy Gregoire was someone I thought might get one last look under a new coaching staff in Laval before he was let go. While he’s limited as a predominantly bottom-six forward at the AHL level, he did take some strides forward in 2017-18 and held his own when injuries forced him into the top six. If he isn’t able to land an NHL two-way deal elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if Montreal brings him back on a minor league deal closer to training camp.
Tom Parisi was a safe bet to be non-tendered. While he played a regular role in Laval, he also is set to turn 25 next month. That’s a bit too old to still be classifying as a prospect and since he’s still a long way from the NHL, cutting bait here was a certainty. His spot will likely be filled by one of the two Czech blueliners who signed last month.
Logan Shaw was, to me, the biggest toss-up of the group. He didn’t really move the needle much either way in his time with the Habs but his ability to play both centre and the wing gave the Habs some extra flexibility at the bottom of their roster. However, it appears they believe they can upgrade his spot either internally or with someone else in free agency.
One restricted free agent, Markus Eisenschmid, was not mentioned in Montreal’s press release. While he has already signed in Germany, the team was still required to tender an offer to retain his NHL rights. It remains to be seen if they qualified him previously or are letting him go as well.
The Habs currently have 38 players under contract and assuming they sign their remaining restricted free agents, they will effectively be at 42 contracts out of the limit of 50. That gives them enough space to add some help to the big club but they don’t have a lot of contract room to go after some prominent players for the AHL, something that Laval will need if they merely want to be competitive next season.