Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Zach Parise stands out in a thin free agency class
This will be perhaps the trickiest part for the new Canadiens management team.
This is where Marc Bergevin is left with the biggest mess. The roster is loaded with bad contracts for underperforming players. That of course is attributed to the Bob Gainey/Pierre Gauthier era, in which they left a legacy of players like Scott Gomez, Tomas Kaberle and Rene Bourque.
Scott Gomez has two years on his contract, with an annual cap hit of $7.3 million. Kaberle has two years left with a hit of $4.25 million. Bourque's cap hit is less of a burden at $3.3 million, but he has four years left and didn't show Habs fans all that much last season.
That's $14.9 million tied to three inconsistent and underperforming players. The Habs should focus on trimming the fat and get guys on their roster who will contribute all 82 games and the playoffs.
They won't be able to cut all that salary but one quick solution is sending Gomez to the minors.With that $7.3 million saved, the Habs will have more room to sign their own restricted free agents. If they're able to cut additional salaries, they can also make a big splash in free agency.
Zach Parise will not solve the size issue up front, at 5'11" and 185 pounds, but he's a legitimate top-six forward that's been hard to come by for this team. Parise doesn't take nights off, and has been durable throughout his career, with the exception of the 2010-2011 season, in which he only played 13 games.
How big of a mess were the Devils that season?
Parise is good for 30 goals a year. Adding him to a lineup with Cole and Pacioretty—who were each 30-goal scorers—will give a much needed additional scoring threat on the top two lines, and someone who's responsible defensively as well.
Maybe Parise's former teammate Brian Gionta can play a role as well in bringing Parise to Montreal. If Gionta plays a role in the Habs signing Parise, fans will appreciate the captain that much more.
If the Habs wish to get the top defensive prize, then Ryan Suter of the Predators may be available as well. Nashville will have to pull off a miracle to keep both Suter and RFA Shea Weber. At 6'1" and 195 pounds, and as a responsible defenceman who can contribute up front, why wouldn't the Habs be hot on his trails?
Either way, if the Habs really want a quick fix, they'll have to score a big name in free agency.