Posted at 5:53 PM
Fans rejoiced when the Canadian took one of the top three picks in the draft in July by finishing last in the overall standings. For many people, the file is on the back burner until the Stanley Cup final, but for the CH staff, the preparation is in full swing. It is this element that Kent Hughes has identified as his priority at the moment. He recalled having 14 caps, 7 of which were in the first three rounds. Kent Hughes therefore multiplies the encounters with his scouts and has just returned from Germany, where he took part in the World Under-18 Championship, and he will soon fly to Finland, where the World Seniors will take place, a tournament in which Europe’s best young players are often invited.
Lighten the budget
Warning to the reader: There will be a lot of talk about money in the following segments. Because the Habs’ budget is as tight as possible. According to the CapFriendly site, a reference in the case, just over 81.5 million has already been invested in salaries for the 2022-2023 season, leaving a room of barely a million under the league-set ceiling. The GM remains cautious: he will not systematically sell his highest paid players for the simple benefit of giving himself some leeway. For example, it does not rule out the possibility of withholding part of a player’s salary as part of a transaction, provided that the flexibility acquired in the short term has no effect in the long term, i.e. when the team is ready to aim for big honour. The fact remains that in the coming years, reducing the payroll “will be very important,” he said. “In the current system you can draft the best players, but at some point it has to work with the salary ceiling. †
In Montreal, “liberating the payroll” now rhymes with “unraveling the Shea Weber file.” CH is known to be looking for the heavy contract of their captain – who incidentally will no longer be captain next season. The case of Weber, as the Canadian political system as explained in The Boys II, it’s complicated. He will of course not play again, but is careful not to announce his retirement, because the formalization of this decision would have other financial consequences. While the situation tickles the league and its insurer, the ex-defender keeps a low profile and doesn’t meet the media. This doesn’t stop his weight on the payroll from continuing to be an issue for the CH, who still has hopes of finding a takeover team for this big contract. Is there still a market for these types of exchanges? a reporter asked. “Yes,” Hughes replied succinctly.
Because Carey Price’s story has appeared extensively in the media, notably being the subject of multiple articles in the largest French daily newspaper in America, there is no need to return to his complex medical assessment. The fact remains that his name is often pronounced on the seventh floor of the Bell Center until the leaves change color. According to Kent Hughes’ own admission, a clear assessment of the condition of his goalkeeper’s knee would make his job easier. The answer, if it exists, is in the hands of the medical staff following Price. At a glance, two scenarios arise. If Price sinks his knee into the Styx and can play in the fall, his GM may consider a trade or roll out his rebuild around him. Otherwise, Price, a prisoner of uncertainty, would fail again on the long-term injured list, in Montreal or elsewhere if his contract is exchanged. Level of complexity: see Weber, Shea.
Martin St. Louis
This is not the most burning dilemma of the moment, because both sides want to reach an agreement. Kent Hughes wants Martin St-Louis to continue the work he started behind the bench, and would like to give him a contract of “at least three years”. And the head coach has also expressed a desire to remain head coach of the Canadiens. St-Louis’ interim mandate is nearing its end and a formal pact must be struck or any team could call in its services. Negotiations should begin shortly; it is suspected that unless there is a surprise they will not be painful. St-Louis also revealed Friday night that if he returns to Montreal at the end of the summer, his wife and their youngest son will still remain in Connecticut, which Hughes had no objection to.
contracts to sign
They are not the big stars of the club, but Kent Hughes has a few other negotiations on fire nonetheless. Alexander Romanov, Samuel Montembeault, Cayden Primeau, Rem Pitlick, Michael Pezzetta, and Kale Clague will all become Restricted Free Agents, while a few Unrestricted Free Agents can be retained – Chris Wideman and Tyler Pitlick, for example. “Preliminary discussions” have already taken place with players and their agents, but an announcement is not forthcoming, we understand that. However, with a smile, Alexander Romanov has already indicated how much he “loves Montreal”, adding that he “wants to stay here as long as possible”. Fans will be delighted by this wave of enthusiasm. His agent, maybe a little less.
Not only is the ball in Kent Hughes’ court, but he didn’t hide the fact that his formation would have a somewhat rejuvenated face at the start of the school year. He’s excited about the auditions Justin Barron and Jordan Harris have had this season and is already looking forward to the jump to the pros from defenders Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj and forward Jan Mysak. We could add to his list forwards Jesse Ylönen and Rafael Harvey-Pinard, who are making their mark on the American League. “Youth is coming,” said Hughes, although decisions about which players will be made based on their individual development and not the Canadian’s one-time needs. “We’ll have to see how ready they are,” he said, adding that without a transition back and forth between the CH and the Laval Rocket could be numerous in 2023-2023. Three rookies in defense probably won’t play all 82 games, he noted. “We are not taking that risk. †