After 3 years of rebuilding, the Montreal Canadiens had different plans for the 2019/2020 NEFHL season. With a solid prospect pool and 23 million or so in cap space available after the Robin Lenher trade right before the draft, Canadiens management spent a couple of months planning what they would do once FA opened up.
The club was able to resign Dustin Byfuglien to the smallest contract he has seen in 9 seasons. While his scoring is down this year, the rest of his game is still solid and he should help anchor the defense again this upcoming season. Patrik Nemeth and Tomas Hyka were the only others to sign during the RFA/Loyalty period. Josh Archibald was brought in as an unassigned player with the hopes he could fit in somewhere on the bottom 6.
Then UFA started, and that's where the 23M in cap space started to come in handy. Not many people saw the Canadiens as players in FA thinking they were going to go another year trying for a top pick, but in week one the Canadiens stepped up and locked in Alexander Radulov for 4 years and Craig Anderson for 2 years. Radulov brings in a solid 2 way game that will see him play in all situations and Anderson solidifies the goalie position for the next couple of seasons. The rest of UFA however was not as good. The club missed out on many of their other top targets in Frans Nielson, Andrew Cogliano, Keith Kinkaid and Taylor Fedun. They also saw the contracts for Evgenii Dadonov and Matt Calvert start reaching levels that they were not comfortable paying.
That's when the club started looking at trade possibilities. First one broguht in Patrik Hornqvist for a 2 and a 5 in a sign and trade deal that helped put GM Alex in the cross-hairs of many other GMS in the league. The second trade was much less controversial as Bobby Ryan was brought in for Juho Lammikko to helo solidify the third line. The third trade was the big one that saw Patrik Nemeth, Kyle Brodziak and a 2021 1st go to Chicago for Mikko Koivu, Chris Tierney, Mark Jankowski, Artturi Lehkonen and Matt Hunwick. Aftet this trade, the roster looks to be set and the club is ready for the season. A fourth minor trade was completed that sent Pavel Francouz to Vegas for the 2020 4th rounder.
At this point in the summer, the team looks ready to head to camp and see what they can do this year. Even with all of these moves, the prospect group that the Canadiens work so hard to build up stayed in tact. Below is what the projected opening night roster looks like and comes at a cap hit of about 43.7M