Top Five Free Agents: Who Could the Habs Acquire

In less than 24 hours, the NHL draft will be underway at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. And in a weeks’ time, free agents around the league will hit the market on the hunt for a new home. Mounting speculation over who the Montreal Canadiens will draft and whether or not they will be actively shopping their picks for players will be revealed at 7pm on Friday.

With over nine million dollars available in cap space, the Habs will have to move some money in order to accommodate a top-six player and add elsewhere if they wish. Alexei Emelin and David Desharnais are among the households names whose contracts could be —and to many should be — bought out or moved. The team will likely try to bolster the right wing position. Here’s a look at who the Habs could target during the interview period and sign in free agency as of July 1st.

Kyle Okposo, RW

Kyle Okposo will be parting ways with the New York Islanders. Could he end up with the Habs? (Photo: Islanders)

Kyle Okposo will be parting ways with the New York Islanders. Could he end up with the Habs? (Photo: Islanders)

Okposo almost matched his career high of 69 points set in the 2013-2014 season. This season, he put up 22 goals and 42 assists for 64 points. On June 17th, Garth Snow all but confirmed that the 7th overall pick in 2006 NHL draft will be testing free agency.  At six feet and 208 pounds, Okposo may be the right winger that the Habs have been searching for to complement the top line with Alex Galchenyuk or the second line manned by Tomas Plekanec. The 28-year-old has many more quality hockey years left in him. He will earn a raise off the $4.5 million salary (cap hit of $2.8 million) that he made this past year and will likely want term.

Loui Eriksson, RW

The 30-year-old Swedish veteran turned many heads this season after scoring 30 goals and 33 assists for a total of 63 points. Eriksson only hit the 30-goal mark once in 2008-2009 with 36, coming close to it with 29 goals in 2009-2010. While his output this season was impressive, Eriksson may be a bit of a gamble given that he isn’t a consistent goal scorer. His first two seasons with the Bruins were average as he recorded 84 points in 182 games. So, the timing of his offensive outbreak is impeccable. The Flyers and the Canucks are reportedly amongst the teams interested in his services. Maybe his hot streak will carry over into the 2016-2017 season, but Eriksson is a risky and expensive option who wants term.

Teddy Purcell, RW

Purcell is no stranger to moving. Having played for four teams (Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers), the 30-year-old may be on the move again. He was traded this year to the Panthers for a playoff run, where he scored 3 goals and 8 assists in 15 games. Statistically speaking, Purcell is much more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer and could add some scoring punch to the Habs third line and at best the second line (if needed).

Milan Lucic, LW

Milan Lucic Los Angeles Kings

Is it even conceivable to imagine Lucic in a Habs jersey? Fans may not have to imagine for much longer. (Photo: Chris Carlson, AP)

Arguably one of the most hated players in the league, Lucic is hitting free agency this summer. Many believe that the Habs should consider signing the man who threatened to kill Dale Weise during the ceremonial post-season handshake. In nine seasons, Lucic has recorded over 50 points four times. He’s a tough, gritty player who has enough hands to give him high-scoring seasons but lacks speed. However, he will likely ask for more than 5 million a season, which is too much money for Lucic or want term that is beyond what anyone should be willing to give. The Habs should probably let Edmonton or Vancouver duke it out for him.

Mikkel Boedker, LW

Boedkker’s name was circulating around Montreal prior to this year’s trade deadline. He got traded to the Colorado Avalanche but general manager Joe Sakic indicated that he will open negotiations with the 28-year-old winger while allowing him to test free agency. Again, a recurring theme in this post is the Habs need for a player with size; at six feet and 211 pounds, Boedkker can use his body to screen goalies and win battles along the boards. Furthermore, he could help revamp the Montreal Canadiens powerplay as he scored 20 of his 51 points (split between the Coyotes and the Avalanche) on the man-advantage.

Honorary mention: Steven Stamkos, C

Because it’s every hockey fan’s dream to have him on their team. But realistically, it’s probably not going to happen with the Habs.

 

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