The Canadiens took care of one of their pending restricted free agents on Friday, announcing that they’ve re-signed winger Michael Pezzetta to a two-year contract. The deal carries a cap hit of $812,500, representing a small raise from the $750,000 league minimum salary he received in 2022-23.
Pezzetta was a regular on the fourth line most nights for the Habs this past season, allowing him to beat his rookie-season marks in most categories. The 25-year-old played in 63 games, picking up seven goals and eight assists. He also led all Montreal forwards with 77 penalty minutes (actually a tad lower than his rookie campaign) and led the team with 239 hits.
It’s fair to question whether Pezzetta should be an every-game regular for the Canadiens during this contract, especially as some of their prospects start to graduate to the NHL in the upcoming couple of years. However, he has shown that he can have some success on the fourth line under head coach Martin St. Louis and even if he winds up in a reserve role, his cap hit isn’t much higher than the upcoming minimum salary of $775,000 which mitigates any sort of risk.
Notably, this contract walks Pezzetta right to UFA eligibility without adding any extra years of team control. However, the shorter-term agreement allows the Habs to keep the cap charge lower, a trade-off that they were clearly willing to make.
Montreal now has eight remaining restricted free agents to deal with this offseason, a number that could go down if they opt to non-tender any of those players by the June 30th deadline.