The Montreal Canadiens have already started re-signing a few of their restricted free agents to contracts including defensemen Brett Kulak and Xavier Ouellet, both 25-years-old respectively. Kulak had a solid year for the Habs after being acquired from the Flames, scoring six goals and 11 assists, making for 17 points in 57 games played. As for Ouellet, he is currently the Captain of the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket.
However, the one UFA the Habs have not re-signed yet is Jordie Benn. Benn is a guy the Habs can’t allow to walk on July 1st. Benn was acquired in February 2017 in a deal that saw Greg Pateryn and Montreal’s fourth-round pick in 2017 heading to Dallas the other way in exchange. The Stars would end up taking Markus Phillips with that pick at #118.
Benn had a career year this year, putting up five goals and 17 assists, making for 22 points while playing in 81 games for the Habs this season. He had 22 points at even strength which is more than P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Oliver-Ekman Larsson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Girard and Torey Krug. If that doesn’t show you how impressive Benn’s numbers were during 5vs5 play then I don’t know what does.
He brings a big body on the blue-line which is something that Habs desperately need. They need a guy who’s going to play a mostly physical game while putting up some points here and there as well.
Benn has been known as a physical player for most of his career and was brought in to Montreal to add some size on their blue-line. Expect Benn’s physicality to continue to be a physical presence and allow Weber and Petry to focus on their offensive game. The Victoria, British Columbia native played mostly on the third pairing for the Habs last season and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him there again next season.
The question is how much do you pay a guy like Benn who is coming off a three-year, $3.3 million deal with an AAV of $1.1mil per year. I believe that if you’re going to give a young guy like Kulak a three-year deal with an AAV of $1.85 per year that you have to give Benn no less than $2.5-3 mil per year. A one-year deal even works for Benn and the Canadiens.
What The Jordie Benn Signing Would Mean for the Habs
The Benn signing would obviously give us a pretty good idea that Mike Reilly won’t be back in a Habs uniform next season. Reilly, who played in 57 games for Montreal last season, was acquired from the Minnesota Wild in February 2018 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft upcoming in Vancouver. While he had a tough time finding a spot in the Habs line-up for most of the season, Reilly did manage to score three goals and eight assists, making for 11 points registered this past season.
With one year left on his deal, Christian Folin could be another guy who could be on his way out of Montreal. Folin saw action in only 45 games where he recorded just six assists. However, with one year left on his current deal and the fact that he signed a one-way deal likely means like Folin’s time is over with the Canadiens in Montreal as well.