After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Montreal Canadiens:
2020-21 season: 24-21-11, fourth in Scotia North Division; lost in Stanley Cup Final
Mike Hoffman, F: The 31-year-old, who signed a three-year contract July 28, scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 52 regular-season games and one goal in four Stanley Cup Playoff games for the St. Louis Blues last season. Hoffman is tied for 19th in the NHL in goals (186) since 2014 with Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and is expected to be a key cog for the Canadiens on the power play, where he has scored 35 goals the past three seasons. … David Savard, D: The 30-year-old, who signed a four-year contract July 28, helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup last season, defeating the Canadiens in five games in the Final. He scored six points (one goal, five assists) in 54 regular-season games for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Lightning last season and had five assists in 20 playoff games. … Mathieu Perreault, F: The 33-year-old signed a one-year contract July 29. Perreault scored 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 56 regular-season games and two points (one goal, one assist) in eight playoff games for the Winnipeg Jets last season. … Cedric Paquette, F: The 28-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28. He scored eight points (four goals, four assists) in 47 regular-season games with the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes and had one assist in four playoff games last season after helping the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2020. … Chris Wideman, D: The 31-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28. Wideman, whose most recent NHL game was January 5, 2019 with the Florida Panthers, led all Kontinental Hockey League defensemen in scoring with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists) in 59 games for Torpedo last season.
Phillip Danault, F: He signed a six-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings on July 28 after scoring 24 points (five goals, 19 assists) in 53 regular-season games and four points (one goal, three assists) in 22 playoff games last season. … Corey Perry, F: He signed a two-year contract with the Lightning on July 29 after scoring 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 49 regular-season games and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 22 playoff games last season. … Eric Staal, F: He’s an unrestricted free agent after scoring 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 53 regular-season games for the Buffalo Sabres and Canadiens last season and eight points (two goals, six assists) in 21 playoff games. … Tomas Tatar, F: He signed a two-year contract with the New Jersey Devils on Aug. 5 after scoring 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 50 regular-season games and getting one assist in five playoff games last season. … Erik Gustafsson, D: He’s an unrestricted free agent after scoring 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 29 regular-season games for the Philadelphia Flyers and Canadiens and three points (one goal, two assists) in 16 playoff games last season. … Jon Merrill, D: He signed a one-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 29 after he had five assists and 70 blocked shots in 49 regular-season games for the Detroit Red Wings and Canadiens and no points in 13 playoff games last season.
On the cusp
Ryan Poehling, F: The 22-year-old, who was selected with the No. 25 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, scored 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 28 games for Laval of the American Hockey League last season and will bid for a bottom-six role with the Canadiens. He has scored five points (four goals, one assist) in 28 NHL games with Montreal … Josh Brook, D: The 22-year-old, who was selected in the second round (No. 56) of the 2017 NHL Draft, scored 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in 33 games for Laval last season. Brook could get a long look in training camp with the departures of Merrill and Gustafsson and defenseman Shea Weber expected to be out for the entire season because of various injuries.
What they still need
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Weber’s career could be over, so finding a top four defenseman for the long term should be a target. Savard, Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson could be the top four to start the season, and Alexander Romanov will be expected to take the next step in his second NHL season.
They said it
“There’s nothing like playing hockey in Canada, let alone Montreal being an Original Six team, the fans, the atmosphere and city. It just has everything you want as a hockey player. … Obviously the hockey part of it is they have a great hockey team, some great young talent that’s coming up, and I think they’re going to be good for a long time. So it was a pretty easy decision for me.” — forward Mike Hoffman
Right wing Cole Caufield is the highest-ranked rookie skater in NHL.com’s fantasy rankings, No. 2 in his class behind Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight and a fringe top 100 overall player. Caufield led NHL rookies with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 games during the 2021 playoffs and became the first rookie in NHL history to score three overtime points in a single postseason. The best-case fantasy scenario is for Caufield to remain on a line with Montreal’s most valuable forwards Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki, with whom he formed strong chemistry in the postseason. — Pete Jensen
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Cole Caufield
Jonathan Drouin — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Brendan Gallagher
Mike Hoffman — Jake Evans — Josh Anderson
Artturi Lehkonen — Cedric Paquette — Joel Armia
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov — David Savard
Ben Chiarot — Chris Wideman