Before the free agent window opened Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin warned that he would be taking a conservative approach thus sticking to his believe that unrestricted free agency is the incorrect path to building a Stanley Cup champion.
Bergevin stuck to his guns. He signed free agent Daniel Briere to a franchise-friendly two year contract and then made a minor trade for fourth liner George Parros who, at 6’5″, has the ability to deal with some of the league’s heavyweights if and when the occasion arises.
The Canadiens have come under criticism for failing to sign or trade for a front line forward with some physical presence. As Bergevin told a news conference late Friday, “It’s really hard to get size. Guys who have players with skill and size they just don’t give them away. If you want to go into the market to get one you would have to tear up your team and I’m not willing to do that.”
The Canadiens are known to have made offers to only two players beside Briere. Forwards Ryan Clowe and Vincent Lecavalier signed five year contracts, a commitment Bergevin was not willing to make.
With 22 players under contract and slightly more than 4 million dollars cap space and with qualifying RFA contract offers out for both Gabriel Dumont and Ryan White, outside of the trade market, Bergevin doesn’t have much wiggle room.
When asked if he his participation in the market was over, Bergevin said “I’m never finished.” Still odds are, what we see now is what we’re going to get in training camp.
For the purposes of this projection, after noting his reduced ice time in Philadelphia last season, I placed Briere on the right side of the third line with Eller and Galchenyuk. Some, more optimistic than myself, think he might wind up with Desharnais and Pacioretty. He’s unlikely to seem much action five-on-five at centre ice.
Bourque Plekanec Gionta
Pacioretty Desharnais Gallagher
Galchenyuk Eller Briere
Moen Prust Parros
Plus White or Dumont
Injury Reserve – Emelin