It is an understatement to say that the Habs have been one of the busier teams the past few days.
Fans were glued to their televisions, radios, and internet screens to see what rookie GM Marc Bergevin will accomplish on his first attempt at this Free Agent Frenzy special that happens every year on July 1st.
The first deal of the day went to Colby Armstrong. After being bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was open to starting over. The Habs got him at $1 million for one year, which is $2 million less than he was making in Toronto. Armstrong is known to be a pest and make the game miserable for the opponent. A con of having him is his knack of getting injured very often, although when healthy, he can be very effective. He himself actually broke the news of his new deal on his Twitter page: “I am so happy to have just agreed to a one year deal with Montreal. So pumped. My fav childhood team. Can’t wait #dreamcometrue #habs” Habs fan growing up? That’s pretty darn cool.
Not long after, the Habs welcomed a former player back to the team, Francis Boullion, the 37-year old who went undrafted but signed with the Canadiens in 1998. Boullion would go on to play for the Habs for nine seasons, before signing with the Nashville Predators at the end of the 2008-09 season. Becoming a UFA with Nashville and not getting an offer, Montreal grabbed him for 1 year at $1.5 million. Boullion is small at 5’8 and 198 lbs, but plays like he is 6’5. His passion and drive is undeniable and rarely takes a shift off. With Hal Gill gone, the younger defencemen need a mentor and Boullion will very likely be that for them.
Then the biggest of free agents came from New York, as Brandon Prust signed a 4-year, $10 million contract with an average annual salary of $2.5 million. While Prust isn’t known for his goal scoring ablility, his physical skills make up for that. He knows how to fight, and he knows how to throw out a good hit. He is very useful on the penalty kill, which the Canadiens lacked last year, finishing 28th in penalty kill percentage. Prust tweeted not long after the announcement: “Thank u to the rangers and their fans. Been an amazin 3 years. Time of my life! On to a new chapter in my life. Montreal here I come!! #habs”
But the most important piece of news came today, when Marc Bergevin announced franchise goaltender Carey Price signed a 6-year, $39 million deal with an average annual salary of $6.5 million. With that salary, he becomes the highest paid Montreal Canadien ever signed (Scott Gomez’s contract was made by the Rangers, so he doesn’t count). While his cap hit is big, Price deserves every dollar of that contract. Him along with P.K. Subban are the faces of the franchise, and you have to pay them accordingly.
In more minor deals, the Canadiens also signed Mike Blunden and Cedric Desjardins to one-year, two-way deals. Blunden split time last season with the baby Habs, the Hamilton Bulldogs, and the Canadiens until he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury about halfway through the year. Desjardins spent last season with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL.
What do you think of the moves the Montreal Canadiens have made so far?