The Montreal Canadiens have re-signed restricted free agent Raphael Diaz to a two-year contract. According to Renaud Lavoie of RDS, the deal is worth $2.45 million. The 26-year-old defenseman appeared in 59 games with the Habs last season, his first in the NHL.
Born in Baar, Switzerland, the 5'11", 194-pound blueliner went undrafted and only signed with Montreal last May. In 59 games, Diaz recorded three goals and 13 assists for 16 points, averaging 18 minutes of ice time per game. Diaz blocked 102 shots, third-most by a Canadiens player and third-most among NHL rookie defensemen.
Diaz made a trip to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa as a member of the All-Rookie team. Diaz has also represented Switzerland at a number of international tournaments, including the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championships.
Diaz showed great potential last year before missing the final 16 games of season because of a groin injury.
Diaz, Andrei Markov, Tomas Kaberle, Josh Gorges, Alexei Emelin, Francis Bouillon and Yannick Weber are all under contract with the Canadiens next season.
P.K. Subban, a restricted free agent and perhaps the most important player on the Canadiens blue line, has yet to sign a contract.
In an offseason in which new GM Marc Bergevin has seemingly made all the right decisions, Montreal fans have to assume it’s only a matter of time before a contract is signed.
The National Post reported on July 1 that negotiations between the Canadiens and Subban would begin in a week’s time. Slam Sports reported on Friday that, as of July 12, contract talks between the Canadiens and Subban were ongoing.
Subban’s agent, Don Meehan, also represents Diaz, Emelin and forward Ryan White on the Canadiens. That may be a good sign for Habs fans, considering Meehan and Bergevin have successfully negotiated contracts for all three restricted free agents.
With that in mind, there is no reason to think Subban won’t agree to terms in the coming weeks.