Last-minute free-agent signing set to rock the Montreal Canadiens?

Aaron Itovitch
April 24, 2024  (1:39 PM)

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes and executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton
Photo credit: Montreal Gazette

At the end of the season review, the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff Gorton, confirmed that the management will look into free agents to potentially acquire a forward.

Naturally, the organization hopes to add a player who can integrate into the team's reconstruction process that began three years ago, rather than just seeking a short-term solution.
It would not be surprising, therefore, if Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton aimed to acquire a forward under 30 years old who could assist the Tricolore offensively, but also serve as an experienced veteran to help the younger players in the lineup.
In this regard, four players in particular could represent interesting options for bringing a significant offensive contribution: Sam Reinhart, Jake Guentzel, Elias Lindholm, and Anthony Duclair.
However, knowing that Kent Hughes has established a certain salary hierarchy with the contracts given to Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, it would be surprising if he wished to offer more than 10 million dollars to a player like Sam Reinhart, even though he would considerably help Martin St-Louis's top-6.
"During his recent press conference, Jeff Gorton stated that the team would examine the free agent market if interesting options presented themselves. I see four potential candidates:

Sam Reinhart (FLA) 28 years old, right winger
Jake Guentzel (CAR) 29 years old, left winger
Elias Lindholm (VAN) 29 years old, center or left winger
Anthony Duclair (TBL) 28 years old, left winger" - JD Lagrange

While the first three players mentioned earlier are likely to break the bank, as they will surely be looking to sign their biggest contracts since joining the NHL, a different scenario might unfold for Quebecois forward Anthony Duclair.
Indeed, the left winger from Pointe-Claire was earning a salary of only three million dollars this year. Even though he might be entitled to a salary increase with his next deal, it's expected that his salary would be around four million dollars.
Moreover, Anthony Duclair has previously mentioned that he would like the opportunity to play for his childhood team, suggesting he might even sign at a discount to join the Montreal Canadiens.
While not being the ideal solution to complete Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Kirby Dach, and Alex Newhook on the top two lines, he could become a very good addition to the top-9, and serve on the second unit in case of injuries.
Anthony Duclair's statistics over the last four seasons:

ˇ 2022-2021 (FLA): 32 points, including 10 goals, in 43 games (0.74 pts per game)
ˇ 2021-2022 (FLA): 58 points, including 31 goals, in 74 games (0.78 pts per game)
ˇ 2022-2023 (FLA): 9 points, including 2 goals, in 20 games (0.45 pts per game)
ˇ 2023-2024 (SJ and TB): 42 points, including 24 goals, in 73 games (0.58 pts per game)

He might not be the famous 70-point scorer the team is looking for, but playing with quality forwards, he could possibly reach the 50-point mark in the coming seasons. Moreover, knowing that the CH finished 26th in average goals per game this season, his contribution would certainly be welcome.
If you were in Kent Hughes's shoes, would you attempt to sign Anthony Duclair next July 1st?
24 AVRIL   |   188 ANSWERS
Last-minute free-agent signing set to rock the Montreal Canadiens?

Would you sign Anthony Duclair if you were Kent Hughes?

Yes6836.2 %
No12063.8 %
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