Over the next five weeks, Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier will be meeting with his coaches and scouts to lay out a game plan for the July first free agent signing orgy.  There will be some tough decisions. 

The Canadiens have fourteen players under contract for next season totaling just under 46 million dollars.  (see  at bottom of post)  At this moment, without moving contracts, they have nine players to sign with the remaining twelve million cap space. 

The unrestricted free agents are Tomas Plekanec, Glen Metropolit, Paul Mara, Dominic Moore, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Mathieu Darche.  Within  that group, Plekanec stands to be the big winner. 

Among the restricted free agents are goaltenders Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak.  Also Tom Pyatt, Sergei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot and Maxim Lapierre. 

In this day and age you can’t keep them all.  Some veterans will be going either by free agency or trade.  Some kids will be promoted from the farm system. 

Here’s a look at the Canadiens end-of-season roster.  Play general manager and make your choices. 

Goal

Jaroslav Halak _ What need be said.  Restricted free agent.  May wind up in arbitration. Will be asking for between four and four and half million.

Carey Price – Also restricted.  Unrealized potential.  Working on  a bonus contract that gives him 2.2 million.  Won’t get much more based on his win/loss record and the unanswered questions about his ability to maintain game concentration. 

Defence

Hal Gill – didn’t seem as effective after he suffered that skate cut on the back of his leg early in the Flyers series.  Still, with Gorges, the Canadiens best in the playoffs.

Josh Gorges – Solid.  Fearless.  Competitive.  Especially with Gill.  Untouchable although I hear rumours the San Jose Sharks really want to get him back. 

Roman Hamrlik– Looked tired at times late in the season.  36 years old.   Still has a year left on that five million dollar contract.  Can his contract, one year left at 5.5 million, be moved.

Jaroslav Spacek – Steady.  Two more years at 3.8 million.

P.K. Subban – Coming star as soon as he figures out when he can open his game up and when he has to rein it in.

Marc-Andre Bergeron – One trick pony.  For 750-thousand maybe you think about keeping him.   Anything more, let him go and use Subban on the point with Markov on the power play.   

Ryan O’Byrne – Yet to completely figure it out.  Still developing, but  you don’t give up on players, especially defenceman, with his noticeable assets.

 

Forwards

Scott Gomez – A good player.  Not worth the 7.4 million dollar cap hit, but competes nightly.  Does the job both ends of the ice.

Brian Gionta – Mentioned as a future candidate for team captaincy. 

Benoit Pouliot – There’s a reason the Minnesota Wild unloaded a 4th overall draft pick for an, at the time,  underachieving Guillaume Latendresse.  The Wild won this trade, at least so far.  After a promising start, went straight backwards.  Questionable work ethic. 

Tomas Plekanec – Is going to be looking for a five million dollar-plus contract.  Considering his disappearance in the playoffs, the Canadiens have to be asking whether they might be better off taking the five million dollars elsewhere. 

Michael Cammalleri – Goalscorer.  Earned his money.  Most of his production in the playoffs seemed to come when he was playing away from regular season linemates Plekanec and A. Kostitsyn; i.e. with Gomez and Gionta.

Andrei Kostitsyn – Who can explain what’s happened to him.  A hattrick early in the Washington series and then nothing at all.  Earns 3.25 million.  Would there be a team that might take both brothers off  the Canadiens hands as an entry?

Dominic Moore – Unrestricted free agent.  Made a million dollars last year.  Shouldn’t be asking for much more next season.  Brings intangibles.  The Canadiens are going to face a decision on him.  Third line player.  Totally honest in his approach, but you have to make room for farm system players as well.  He’s one worth signing among the veteran third and fourth liners..

Maxim Lapierre – His regular season was awful.  May have saved his position with the team off his playoff performance.   

Travis Moen – Tough competitor.  Under contract at a comfortable 1.5 million for two more years.. 

Glen Metropolit – Seems to have slowed.  Became a part time player during the playoffs.  Will come in again at around a million dollars.  May be this year’s version of Tom Kostopoulos at free agent time.

Mathieu Darche – Started the year in Hamilton as a minor league free agent signing.  Professional veteran player but his lack of speed in noticeable on this team. 

Sergei Kostitsyn – Head case.  May finally get it together in another organization. 

Ben Maxwell – Not ready for prime time.  Needs to get bigger.  Unless there’s an epiphany, will start next season in Hamilton.  Has to find a way to make an impact at the NHL level.

Tom Pyatt – Part of the deal that brought Gomez to the Canadiens.  Unrelenting checker.  Good speed.  Has a chance to be one of the better checking forwards in the game.  He’ll be signed.

Georges Laraque – Suspended by the club as a “distraction” in December but still on the roster at 1.5 million.  The final year of his contract will be bought out at half it’s value, meaning a cap-hit in 2010-’11 of 750-thousand dollars. (Correction- Laraque’s buyout will be at 2/3rd’s his salary total spread over two years.  The cap-hit will be 500 thousand for each of two years)

On The Farm-

Cedrick Desjardins  G– Among leading goaltenders in the American Hockey League.  If some kind of deal comes to pass for Price or Halak, could get his chance.

Mathieu Carle D – The biggest problem is keeping him healthy.  A wrist injury kept him out this season.  Last year it was a training camp knee injury.  Puck moving defenceman.

Yannick Weber D–  Small, but will get another close look at training camp.  Right handed shot.  Another smart, puck moving defenceman.  Good accurate shot.   Was called up by the Canadiens briefly early in te season.  Also has been hurt this year. 

Brock Trotter-C – Speed to burn.  Smallish at 5’9”.  Can score at the AHL level.  36 goals during the regular season.   Is having a very good playoff run.  18 points in 18 playoff games including 8 goals. 

David Desharnais-C- Trying to overcome the issue of his size.– 5’6”.  But he’s a competitor.  Remember Theoren Fleury?  22 points in 18 games-third in AHL playoff scoring.   78 points in 60 games after missing first part of season with a broken foot.

Max Pacioretty- LW Remember him?  Still a top prospect.  Sent to Hamilton in January.  Shoulder injuries have limited him to 16 regular season and four in the post season.  Just returned to the Hamilton lineup. 

Ryan White- C -Role player.  173 minutes in penalties this season.

Here’s the list of the fourteen signed members of the Canadiens and their salaries for next year as supplied by CapGeek.com

FORWARDS
Scott Gomez ($7.357m) / Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Brian Gionta ($5.000m)
Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.250m) / Georges Laraque ($1.500m) / Travis Moen ($1.500m)
Ben Maxwell ($0.850m)
DEFENSEMEN
Andrei Markov ($5.750m) / Roman Hamrlik ($5.500m)
Jaroslav Spacek ($3.833m) / Hal Gill ($2.250m)
Josh Gorges ($1.100m) / Ryan O’Byrne ($0.942m)
P.K. Subban ($0.875m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS
(these totals are compiled using the bonus cushion)
ROSTER: 14; PAYROLL: $45.707m; CAP ROOM: $11.208m BONUSES: $0.115m