Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The Montreal Canadiens have five players aged 35 and up, including Daniel Briere (36), Brian Gionta (35), Francis Bouillon (38), Mike Weaver (36), Andrei Markov (35). Douglas Murray (34) is another player whoc could potentially retire.
Only Briere and Markov are currently on contract for next year, and even they aren't necessarily guaranteed to last the season.
The most significant possible retirement would be Markov's, as he is a solid top-four option who can quarterback the power play and kill penalties.
Weaver also proved highly valuable after his trade deadline acquisition and is known for strong shutdown play and penalty killing at the No. 4 spot on the depth chart.
The loss of Bouillon and Murray would have minimal impact, as they have already been phased into playing depth roles.
Up front, Briere has also been phased into a depth role at even strength but can still be useful on the power play and has gone 10-for-29 in the shootout over the past six years. He also surprisingly ranked third among Canadiens forwards in average quality of competition last year and had positive possession numbers for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Montreal's forward who ranked first in quality of competition last year was Gionta, who never generally dips below fifth. While his scoring totals and possession numbers are all dropping, the team nevertheless had greater confidence in him defensively than anyone except arguably Tomas Plekanec.
The Canadiens could use some more help on the blue line, as they are currently relying on an aging and injury-prone Markov, a yet-to-be-signed P.K. Subban and potentially overpaid marginal top-four defensemen Josh Gorges and Alexei Emelin.
Youngsters Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi are not good top-four options yet, and Davis Drewiske (if healthy) is a candidate for the third pairing only.
The Habs could also use some top-line defensive-minded forwards too. Players like Travis Moen, Brandon Prust and Dale Weise are third-line options only, and Rene Bourque has never proven to be a consistent and reliable top-six forward.
Right now, Lars Eller appears to be the best candidate for the top shutdown line, and Plekanec could really find himself hung out to dry if Montreal fails to secure superior options.