The Habs general manager has some thinking to do.
With the NHL free agent day fast approaching, there have been many rumors circulating around who the Habs will sign. With Shea Weber on the LTIR, as well as Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar likely leaving, the Canadiens have lots of cap space and GM Marc Bergevin will definitely be active in the coming weeks.
Yesterday, it was announced that the Habs were in talks with KHL player Chris Wideman, a former NHL D-man who showed lots of potential in his early seasons with the Ottawa Senators, but got bounced around from team to team in 2018-19 as his production declined. He did, however, have a bounce-back year last season in the KHL, scoring 41 points in 59 games. The AAV of the offered contract has yet to be confirmed, however, it is believed to be a one-year deal. If these rumors are true, Wideman would add depth to our blue line, with guys like Gustafsson and Merrill likely leaving in free agency and Cale Fleury being picked up by Seattle.
Another rumor that has been circulating around the league is the Habs signing D-man David Savard, who just came off a Stanley Cup championship with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Savard was a big reason for the Lightning's playoff success, most notably setting up the game winning goal against the Habs in game 5 of the finals. Although he doesn’t put up a ton of points, he would definitely be a good replacement for Shea Weber and would come at a cheaper price. Tampa even traded a first round pick at the trade deadline last season to obtain Savard.
Perhaps the biggest free agent this year has also been linked to the Habs, and that is Dougie Hamilton, one of the best two-way D-men in the NHL. Hamilton put up 42 points in 55 games last season while ending the year with a +20. The Habs acquiring Hamilton will instantly improve their team in every aspect of the game. The only issue is that he will cost a lot of money. Analysts are saying that Hamilton will likely get 8-9.5 million per season.
Of course, it isn’t always reliable to listen to rumors. Last year, none of the analysts linked Tyler Toffoli to the Habs, yet he signed here in the end. In previous years, there were many big-name players who were supposedly looking to play in MTL, but none of them came.
I’d be happy with either player. Obviously, Hamilton would be the more valuable option, but Savard, who is still incredibly effective, would come cheaper, allowing us to trade for or sign a top-six forward.