Friday was decision day for the Canadiens as to who would and wouldn’t be receiving a qualifier. In the end, of their eight remaining restricted free agents, six were tendered and two were not.
The players receiving qualifiers were:
D Nicolas Beaudin ($874,125)
F Lucas Condotta ($787,500*)
F Rafael Harvey-Pinard ($787,500*)
F Alex Newhook ($874,125)
F Mitchell Stephens ($787,500*)
F Jesse Ylonen ($874,125)
*-eligible for salary arbitration
Newhook is the biggest name of the group after coming over from Colorado in a trade before the draft earlier this week. He has five years of club control remaining and is likely to receive a bridge contract. However, with that club control he has, such a deal could range anywhere from one year to four. The 22-year-old had 14 goals and 16 assists with Colorado this past season.
Harvey-Pinard certainly made an impression in the second half of the season, notching 14 goals and 6 assists in 34 games with Montreal, albeit with an unsustainable 24.1 shooting percentage. The 24-year-old also had 16 goals and 15 assists with Laval. Notably, he’s still waiver-exempt and while there’s a case to be made that he has earned a full-time spot with the Habs, if they can’t move any of their veterans out, he could be the odd man out. A short-term deal is expected and there could be some discussions about a one-way or two-way provision for next season.
Ylonen also split the year between Laval and Montreal. With the Rocket, he was quite productive with 11 goals and 21 assists in 39 games. The 23-year-old added six goals and ten helpers in 37 contests. He’s waiver-eligible next season so it’s possible that the Canadiens offer a one-way component in exchange for him signing at the minimum salary of $775,000 instead of taking his qualifier.
Condotta was the other of the group that saw NHL action in 2022-23, making his NHL debut in the season finale, scoring on his first shift. Meanwhile, with Laval, he had 16 goals and 15 assists while being the only player to play all 72 games. It’s safe to suggest that they’ll be negotiating a two-way deal with the 26-year-old for less than the qualifier in exchange for a higher AHL salary.
Beaudin and Stephens both have NHL experience but didn’t see any action at the top level this past season. Beaudin, 23, had 26 points in 39 games between Laval and Rockford in 2022-23. The 2018 first-rounder has 22 games of NHL experience, all with Chicago. As for Stephens, the 26-year-old signed as a non-tendered UFA last summer and didn’t quite live up to expectations with the Rocket, notching 41 points in 68 games. He does have 72 NHL appearances between Tampa Bay and Detroit which could give him a shot at a raise if it gets to a hearing. More likely, he, like Beaudin, will take a short-term deal for the minimum in the NHL with higher AHL pay.
As for the two not being tendered, they are:
F Denis Gurianov ($2.9 million)
F Joel Teasdale ($787,500)
Gurianov being on this list comes as little surprise as the 26-year-old had just seven goals and ten assists in 2022-23 between Dallas and Montreal. They had discussions on signing for a lower amount but they haven’t come to an agreement yet. This happened to Rem Pitlick last summer who then returned early in free agency so this isn’t a guarantee that Gurianov, 26, won’t be back later on.
As for Teasdale, the 24-year-old made his NHL debut in the final week, getting into a pair of games with the Habs. He spent most of the season with Laval, picking up 23 goals and 15 assists in 58 games. Teasdale did well enough to earn a qualifying offer but Montreal projects to be tight to the 50-contract limit which likely played a role in them letting him go. If he’s willing to sign an AHL deal, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Teasdale return at some point.