The Canadiens have made their decisions on the futures of a handful of young assets. The announcements were made just prior to Monday’s deadline for qualifying offers for their Restricted Free Agents (RFA).
A qualifying offer is not necessarily accepted by a player, it is simply a method for a team to retain the rights to an RFA allowing them to match any offer sheet offers or receive draft pick compensation. The salary offer is 110 percent increase in the base salary of the player qualified. The value of the QO that was tendered for each player mentioned here will be in brackets next to his name.
The Habs had two easy decisions made in tendering QOs to RFA centers Phillip Danault ($997,000) and 2018 World Champion Jacob De La Rose ($761,250). They made it clear with their play last season that they will factor into the NHL future of the Montreal Canadiens whose main goal this off-season is to improve the team’s depth at centre.
The next two offers seemed to be based on a hope that these players can finally make the jump to the NHL.
Michael McCarron ($874,125) has demonstrated some promise of that NHL potential as he has been able to have multiple training camps where he has arguably earned an NHL spot for the Canadiens. His time in the AHL as a physical top six player where he has produced at a 0.56 point per game (PPG) rate in 144 games.
His NHL projection is that of a bottom six winger whose role is to add a physicality. His overall footspeed has been adequate, especially for a six-foot-six-inch player, however, his first step has been lacking in the explosiveness that would allow him to take advantage of all of his skill set. If he finds a way this off-season to improve in that aspect he will likely earn a full time roster spot.
Another former first round selection that received a QO is Kerby Rychel ($874,125). The six-foot-one-inch, 214 pound power forward has toiled successfully in the AHL with a 0.66 PPG rate yet has been unable to crack an NHL lineup with any regularity in his four seasons as a professional. His issue has been consistency. If he were to find that aspect to his game, the physical left winger could carve himself a role in Montreal.
Five RFAs were not tendered a QO. They are, Logan Shaw, Daniel Carr and Jeremy Gregoire, defenseman Tom Parisi and goaltender Zachary Fucale.
Shaw was a waiver wire pick up from Anaheim, His 30 games with the Habs was underwhelming. Gregoire, Parisi and Fucale were not surprising either, as, in my opinion, they seemed to have stalled in their progression. The wave of youth crashing at Laval’s door made them expendable despite their solid play and work ethic at the AHL level.
The one player that was a surprise not to receive a QO was Carr. His style was the type of play that Canadiens’ management has publically said they desire. Despite this gritty and honest style that was productive even in a bottom line role, he was not tendered a QO. There are varying reports as to why that may be, however, for a team intent on building with the right attitude, losing a gritty workhorse that is NHL capable does not seem to fit. Time will tell if that decision was the correct one.