March 1st is the first day that players can be signed to entry-level deals for next season and the Habs wasted little time getting one of those done with Xavier Simoneau, announcing they’ve inked the forward to a two-year contract. The deal pays a base salary of $775,000 each season with a signing bonus of $80,000. He’ll also make an additional $80,000 per year in the minors.
The 21-year-old was selected by Montreal in the sixth round back in 2021 (191st overall) in his final year of draft eligibility, continuing their trend of selecting older local players late over potentially having to go after them as free agents. The Habs sent Simoneau back to the QMJHL last season and he was simply dominant, picking up 86 points in 48 games with Charlottetown while adding another 21 points in 14 postseason contests.
This season, Simoneau has played in Laval and has been one of their sparkplugs when healthy. He sits tied for fifth on the Rocket in points with 28 (five goals, 23 assists) and is only one point out of a tie for third. Among all AHL rookies, the 5’6 middleman is tied for 20th in scoring. Had they not signed him by June 1st, Simoneau would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency but with him playing an important role in Laval, that didn’t seem likely to happen and they wasted little time rewarding him for his efforts.
As this contract is a future deal, it does not count against Montreal’s contract limit for this season. They currently sit at 47/50 on that front heading into this week’s trade deadline with potentially Sean Farrell and Jayden Struble needing deals that begin this season.