The Montreal Canadiens have done some great work over this very unique NHL offseason. Perhaps the busiest team in terms of trades and signings, the Canadiens added Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli and re-signed Brendan Gallagher, ensuring he’ll remain in the fold for years to come. There’s one big item left on GM Marc Bergevin’s to-do list.
According to Eric Engels of Sportsnet, Bergevin is aware that he needs to, at some point, face the reality that a contract extension with center Phillip Danault could be a tricky thing to accomplish. Danault has already come out and said he’s not keen on taking a back seat on the Canadiens depth chart and if his demands are too high, Bergevin may not be able to get the center signed.
Bergevin has said he appreciates Danault’s contributions to the Canadiens, but the general manager also spoke of the organization’s depth and future at the center position. He likes what he sees.
Ryan Poehling and Jake Evans are players the Canadiens will look to in the future. And as far as next season goes, the Habs will be expecting Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki to take another step forward. When it comes to how he’ll approach a Danault extension with that information on hand, Bergevin explained:
“At a certain point, the players are going to have to understand that we want to make a fair deal, but we’re going to have to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘We have players like KK and Nick Suzuki and [defenceman Alex] Romanov that we’re going to have to remunerate,’ and we have to be on top of that because we aren’t losing them under my watch.”
Can the Canadiens Keep Everyone?
After adding the pieces he did and re-signing players to big extensions, there has to be a point where the question is asked, ‘Can the Canadiens keep everyone?’ The answer is no, not in a flat salary cap NHL.
Clearly, if Danault was happy with his role and both sides wanted to get a deal done, they’d try to work on something that offers a win/win for both sides. Perhaps the team and the player could find a common middle ground. But, based on Danault’s comments and now that of the general manager, this deal will hardly be that black and white.
Bergevin wants Danault to stick around. But, he’s only willing to go so far to make that happen.
How Much of a Priority is Danault?
When asked Thursday about what he intended to do in the short-term after having already done so much, Bergevin said he thought he might take some vacation time. That can’t be good news for Danault.
The forward does have another year left on his deal, but so did Brendan Gallagher. Danault, now 27 years old has posted 25 goals and 100 points combined over the last two seasons. That’s good production. It’s just not enough to warrant Bergevin dropping what he’s doing to get an extension done.
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