NHL Free Agency 2012: 8 Important Players the Montreal Canadiens Could Sign

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IJuly 7, 2012

NHL Free Agency 2012: 8 Important Players the Montreal Canadiens Could Sign

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    The Montreal Canadiens have had a good offseason: making a number of good hires, great selections at the NHL Entry Draft and adding players via free agency.

    The Habs’ roster is beginning to fill up with the addition of Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong and the re-signing of restricted free agent Lars Eller. However, there are still a number of players available that could be signed. Many are unrestricted free agents, while others are the Habs' own restricted free agents.

    It may come as a surprise to some fans, but almost a week into the free-agent frenzy, there are still a variety of players looking for NHL contracts.

    It would be great to land a big-name player like Alexander Semin or Shane Doan, but the Habs have just over $8 million left in cap space so its unlikely they'll be in contention to sign either player.

    With that in mind, here are eight players that the Canadiens could still consider signing for the 2012-13 NHL season.

Jason Arnott, UFA

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    Jason Arnott may be nearing the end of his career, but he still has something to offer. Arnott recorded 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points while playing for the defensive-minded St. Louis Blues last season.

    Arnott wouldn't log a ton of minutes, but he would give the Habs depth down the middle and bring experience and leadership to the locker room. Arnott scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the New Jersey Devils in 2000. He has also played for the Oilers, Stars and Predators.

    His contract would likely be a two-year deal at the most, and it wouldn't eat up much cap room. 

Jamie Langenbrunner, UFA

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    Jamie Langenbrunner, like Arnott, would add depth and experience to the Canadiens' roster. 

    Langenbrunner won two Stanley Cups, one with the Stars in 1999 and the other with the Devils in 2003. Langenbrunner was also the captain of the United States hockey team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

    Langenbrunner has put up solid career numbers, scoring 243 goals with 419 assists for 662 points in 1,105 NHL games.

    Langenbrunner would be joining fellow Americans Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty if he were to sign with Montreal.

Kristian Huselius, UFA

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    Kristian Huselius is a talented player who at age 33, has yet to play in a big market. Huselius has scored 190 goals and provided 261 assists for 451 points in 662 games with the Panthers, Flames and Blue Jackets.

    His best seasons came as a member of the Calgary Flames, perhaps the pressure of playing in Montreal could serve as motivation for Huselius. 

    If the Habs could sign Huselius for the right price, it may be worth their while—especially if he were to develop chemistry with a player like Tomas Plekanec.

    Huselius' recent string of injuries will likely keep teams from offering him anything near his previous contract, worth an average of $4.75 million a year.

Carlo Colaiacovo, UFA

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    It wouldn't hurt to add an extra blueliner or two this offseason, considering the injury problems the Habs have had on defense, specifically with Andrei Markov. 

    Colaiacovo may not be the ideal option, but there are very few young defensemen left in the free-agent pool. 

    Colaiacovo has recorded decent numbers for a defenseman, putting up 139 points in 370 games. Playing on one of the best defensive teams in the NHL last year, Colaiacovo averaged 19 minutes in ice time, recorded 73 hits and 81 blocked shots in 64 games. 

Scott Hannan, UFA

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    Scott Hannan would bring size and toughness to the Canadiens blueline. The 33-year-old Richmond, BC native has played for the Sharks, Avalanche, Capitals and Flames.

    Hannan won't contribute much offensively, but he will bring grit and will be good for at least 20 minutes of ice time per game. 

    Hannan blocked 126 shots last year and added 60 hits, while earning just $1 million with the Flames. With that being said, he is certainly an affordable option for the Habs.

Raphael Diaz, RFA

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    Raphael Diaz played 59 games with the Canadiens last season and is currently a restricted free agent

    The Swiss blueliner may not have great size or experience, but he did prove he can log big minutes last season. Diaz averaged 18 minutes of ice time per game, the third most amongst Habs defensemen. He was also third on the team in blocked shots—with 102—and he played less games than the players ranked ahead of him. 

    Diaz may never be an elite defenseman in the league, but he has the potential to be a consistent factor for the Canadiens. Plus, Diaz made less than $1 million last year, so the Canadiens should have no problem giving Diaz a small raise—should they choose to sign him, that is.

Blake Geoffrion, RFA

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    Geoffrion isn't likely to put up big numbers or make the All-Star game, but he could be a fan favourite for many years should the Habs sign the restricted free agent.

    Not only is Geoffrion a fourth generation NHL player, he's a fourth generation Montreal Canadiens player. His great grandfather was NHL legend, Howie Morenz. His grandfather was Bernie 'Boom-Boom' Geoffrion and his father is Dan Geoffrion. 

    Geoffrion was a member of the U.S. national development team, the U.S. world junior team in 2007 and 2008 and was the winner of the Hoby Baker Award as the best college hockey player in 2010.

    Geoffrion still has a lot to prove, but it's worth giving him a shot with a short-term deal. 

P.K. Subban, RFA

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    There has been no news on Subban’s contract negotiations since July 1, when it was reported that contract talks were in the early stages.

    Hopefully it's just a case of reaching an agreement on the length of the contract for the 23-year-old blueliner.

    Subban was drafted 43rd overall by the Canadiens in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Although he had almost no NHL experience, Subban was a contributing factor in the Canadiens 2010 playoff run, scoring a goal and racking up seven assists in 14 games.

    Last season Subban notched seven goals and 29 assists for 36 points in 81 games. He was one of the few Habs blueliners to finish with a positive plus/minus rating, registering a plus 9. Subban also finished with 105 hits, 113 blocked shots and led all Habs defensemen with 205 shots.

    Canadiens fans can only hope the contract issues will be resolved soon.