Radulov, Galchenyuk Highlight Free Agents

With the 2016-17 Montreal Canadiens campaign coming to a finish, it is time to look ahead at the off-season. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft at the United Center in Chicago will come first. Following that will come the beginning of Free Agency on July 1st.

Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA)

The Montreal Canadiens organization will have seven names to look at when it comes to unrestricted free agency. These players range having been Habs from a couple of months to nearly twenty years.

Free Agents

Alexander Radulov was signed out of the KHL in Russia to a one-year deal this past off-season and exceeded the expectations of many. Bobby Farnham, who spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils also signed a one-year deal last summer.

Andrei Markov was drafted 162nd overall by the Habs in 1998 and has played full time for the team since 2000-01.

Brian Flynn came to Montreal by way of the Buffalo Sabres in March, 2015 in exchange for a draft pick. The fifth round pick (2016) would be Czech defenceman Vojtech Budik of the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders.

Upcoming Free Agents Dwight King, Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen were all trade deadline acquisitions in 2016 in hopes to improve Montreal’s depth for a playoff run. These players came from the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche, respectively.

Restricted Free Agents (RFA)

The Restricted Free Agents list is a longer one, as shown in the chart below. It is highlighted by a couple of first round selections – Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu. Nonetheless, the 2016-17 Canadiens’ edition of RFA’s feature fourteen young players ages 21 to 25.

Free Agents

Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu account for two of the three Restricted Free Agents that played a full time role in the National Hockey League (NHL) this season. Where their backgrounds are similar is they were both former first round picks. Galchenyuk was selected third overall in 2012 and Beaulieu 17th overall in 2011. Beaulieu has played 151 NHL games to date and has totaled 32 points from the blue line. In 275 NHL games, Galchenyuk has recorded 160 points. His young career so far includes a 30-goal season.

Nikita Nesterov is the third Restricted Free Agent having played in the NHL this season. After 35 games with Tampa Bay, Nesterov was traded to the Canadiens in exchange for a sixth round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and defenceman Jonathan Racine.

In the American Hockey League, only three of these young eight free agents were drafted directly by the Montreal Canadiens. Charles Hudon (2012 – 122nd overall), Jacob de la Rose (2013 – 34th overall), and Mark MacMillan (2010 – 113th overall).

Another three were acquired via trades in their careers. Max Friberg came from the Anaheim Ducks in early 2016 in the Dustin Tokarski trade. Stefan Matteau, a first round pick in the 2012 draft, was sent to Montreal the next month for Devante Smith-Pelly. Keegan Lowe is a more recent acquisition. In February, 2017 the Habs acquired the talented son of Kevin Lowe from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Philip Samuelsson.

Undrafted free agents in this bunch include Joel Hanley who made his NHL debut with the Canadiens on March 20th, 2016. Ryan Johnston signed a two-way deal in the 2015 offseason. The highly coveted NCAA goaltender Charlie Lindgren was signed out of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

ECHL

Two restricted free agents on this list spent the majority of their 2016-17 season in the ECHL with the Brampton Beast. Dalton Thrower was the 51st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. In the same draft as fellow RFA Jacob de la Rose, Connor Crisp was picked by Montreal in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft.

Who To Sign?

There is still lots of time to think about who should be part of the organization going forward. However, better start considering the options early.

The obvious players to bring back are Alex Galchenyuk, Alexander Radulov, Andrei Markov, Charles Hudon, Jacob de la Rose, Nathan Beaulieu, and Charlie Lindgren. Among the others, who do you think deserves another contract with the Montreal Canadiens?

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