Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier finally completed his summer’s work last week with the signing of restricted free agent Carey Price to a two-year contract.

He now has  twenty-two players under contract. Nineteen of those are on locked to NHL contracts.  Three, centre Lars Eller plus defencemen Alexandre Picard and P.K. Subban, have two-way deals, meaning the Canadiens can send them to the minors without asking waivers.

According to Cap Geek the team has 1.378 million dollars in cap room. In the past they have liked to carry the maximum of twenty-three players. If the policy hasn’t changed, there’ll be one promotion from last year’s Hamilton Bulldogs and probably a second one while the team awaits the return of Andrei Markov. The minor league promotion will take between six and eight hundred thousand more off the cap.

The Business Side of the Canadiens

There are seven players with no trade contracts of varying types. Brian Gionta has a clear no-trade deal, At the end of each season Scott Gomez can list three teams to whom he won’t accept a trade. Mike Cammalleri has a limited no trade clause; Tomas Plekanec has what is being called a ‘modified’ no-trade clause as part of his recently signed deal. Andrei Markov, who will be an unrestricted free agent next July, is allowed to list seven teams in each conference to whom he will accept a trade. The trade restriction expires February first. ; In Roman Hamrlik’s case, it’s six teams. That clause also expires February first which allows the Canadiens to make an unfettered trade deadline deal if they desire. Jaroslav Spacek has a limited no-trade clause.

The teams that do well historically, are teams that are long-range planners. Built into long range planning is flexibility. Right now the Canadiens have nine players under contract for the 2011-2012 season with 25-million dollars in cap room to sign 13 others. Gauthier will have to deal with five unrestricted free agents; Markov and Hamrlik plus Mathieu Darche, Alex Auld and Hal Gill.

Gauthier also faces the always tricky business of restricted free agents of whom there will be eight including Josh Gorges, Ryan O’Byrne and Alexandre Picard on defence plus forwards Andrei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt, Maxim Lapierre and newcomer Dustin Boyd. New contracts for Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges will be priorities.

What happens to the others will surely depend on the upcoming 2010-2011 season.