The Habs have identified defenceman Joel Edmundson as someone they’d like to have next season. They have a head start on signing him as they’ve acquired his negotiating rights from Carolina for a 2020 fifth-round pick. The pick is the later of the two at 139th overall.
The 27-year-old was part of the Justin Faulk trade last September that saw him go from St. Louis to the Hurricanes. He fit in well with his new team, matching his career high in goals with seven and setting a new benchmark in points with 20. However, he’s not known for his offensive abilities; instead, he’s viewed as a physical blueliner with a willingness to block shots.
Where he’d fit in with the Habs is up for some discussion. Clearly, GM Marc Bergevin has a plan for him otherwise he wouldn’t have done this to get a jumpstart on negotiations. He’s not entirely dissimilar to Ben Chiarot in terms of playing style and the fact that he’d be miscast as Shea Weber’s partner as Edmundson is best utilized as a fourth or fifth defender. Perhaps they view him as a fit with Jeff Petry although Brett Kulak did well in the playoffs in that role.
It’s interesting that this is an area being targeted for improvement. While clearly Montreal’s back end could stand to be augmented, potentially adding another 4/5 guy isn’t what many had in mind. If a contract gets agreed upon, it would seemingly push one of Victor Mete or Kulak out of the equation altogether with Chiarot and Alexander Romanov expected to take two of the three spots on the left side of the back end. Adding Edmundson to the mix would be the third meaning the other would have to play his off side or be out of the lineup.
As for what a deal may cost, Edmundson made $3.1 million this past season and $3 million the year before that. Without doing any serious number crunching, the price tag should seemingly be in the $3.5 million to $4 million range given his bump in production, age, and the fact that the free agent market isn’t very deep. Is that what the Habs need right now? Evidently, Bergevin thinks so. And if a deal can’t be reached, perhaps they’ll be able to flip his rights elsewhere over the next few weeks.