The Habs took care of one of their pending restricted free agents on Friday, announcing that they’ve signed defenceman Jordan Harris to a two-year extension that carries a cap hit of $1.4 million.
If it seems odd that the rookie already needed a new contract, it’s thanks to the route he took to get to Montreal. By playing out his college career, he was only eligible for a two-year entry-level deal. The first of those seasons was burned for the stretch run in 2021-22 as part of the agreement to have him sign with Montreal instead of opting to hit free agency last summer.
Harris got into ten games down the stretch last season and has largely been a regular this year, suiting up in 47 games. He hasn’t put up big numbers offensively (no one on the back end has) but he has a goal and ten assists along with 66 blocked shots while averaging 18:26 per night, good for fifth among Canadiens defenders and fifth among all rookie rearguards.
With a very limited track record in the pros, a bridge contract was almost certainly the way things were going to be going for Harris. The deal gives both sides a bit of certainty but it’s possible Harris’ raise won’t be all that significant as if he hits both of his ‘A’ bonuses (he has a reasonable chance at ice time and plus/minus), his total compensation for this season could wind up around $1.3 million.
Montreal has eight defencemen on its roster right now if you include the injured Kaiden Guhle. All eight of those rearguards are locked up through the end of next season at a minimum so while this has been a season of transition on the back end, there should be a lot more continuity for 2023-24.