The Habs took care of one of their pending restricted free agents on Wednesday, announcing that they’ve re-signed centre Jake Evans to a two-year contract that will carry a $750,000 cap hit. 2020-21 is a two-way pact worth $700,000 in the NHL and $225,000 in the AHL while 2021-22 is a one-way deal worth $800,000.
The 24-year-old spent most of last season in Laval and while he got off to a dreadful start, he still wound up putting up a fairly strong 38 points in 53 games. That helped him earn a recall to the Habs down the stretch following their deadline dealings where he had two goals and an assist in 13 games on the fourth line.
While it looked as if he was going to be a regular in the playoffs, an early upper-body injury put an end to that. However, he managed to get into five games against Philadelphia plus one against Pittsburgh and while his ice time was quite limited (he played more than eight minutes twice), he held his own and was one of Montreal’s better faceoff options (although that was a low bar to clear).
Evans is exempt from waivers next season which is where the two-way component comes in. If he’s in Laval, he’ll still more than triple his AHL salary from this past season but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the mix more regularly with the Habs. As things stand, he will likely be battling Ryan Poehling for a spot on the fourth line in training camp.
Montreal has 10 other restricted free agents for the time being although that amount will be whittled down with several of them not expected to receive qualifying offers. Among the notables that will need to sign a new deal in the coming months are Max Domi, Victor Mete, Xavier Ouellet, Charles Hudon, and Noah Juulsen.