With most of the big guns of the free agency class spoken for nearly two weeks in to the frenzy, the Habs are left still looking to add a few goals to next year’s opening night roster. What started out as a relatively weak UFA class has been watered down considerably but a few interesting options still remain for the Canadiens. Let’s take a look at the top 5 offensive options available via the free agent route that could fit in the Habs lineup next season.
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5. Kyle Wellwood
The former Leaf, Canuck, Shark and now Jet has produced offense in the past when given the opportunity, though he was never a huge goal scorer. His slick hands and playmaking ability make Wellwood an intriguing option on the open market for anyone looking to add a scorer to their lineup. Kyle scored career highs in goals and points last year with Winnipeg when he scored 18 goals and finished with 47 points.
4. Andrei Kostitsyn
Kostitsyn was shipped out of Montreal to Nashville at last February’s trade deadline during the Habs disastrous season. Andrei has a tremendous amount of skill but fans of the Canadiens grew tired of his inconsistent play. He did score 20 goals in 3 out of his 4 full seasons in the bleu blanc et rouge and developed plenty of chemistry on a line with Lars Eller and Travis Moen before being dealt last year.
3. Petr Sykora
Sykora returned to the NHL with the Devils last season after a brief retirement and a short stint playing in Europe. He picked up right where he left off and scored 20 goals for the 11th time in his career. The well traveled veteran will be 36 years old in November and won’t approach his career highs of 35 goals and 81 points but he could fit in well on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta as a stopgap for a year while youngsters like Alex Galchenyuk, Louis Leblanc and Brandon Gallagher develop before playing in the Habs top six.
2. Alex Semin
If Semin was from anywhere but Russia he would have signed a deal for a minimum of 7 years and boatloads of money shortly after free agency opened on July 1st. However, being Russian, his defensive shortcomings have been magnified and many teams have been scared off. On a positive note, Semin is one of the most talented players in the NHL. He has averaged over 30 goals since coming to the NHL full time in 2006 and has a skill set surpassed by very few players in the world. He would cost more than any of the other remaining options but with career highs of 40 goals and 84 points reached as recently as 2010, the payoff could be enormous.
1. Shane Doan
Doan has long been thought to never even consider leaving the Coyotes, but with the ownership issues seemingly going to last forever it appears he is open to the idea of moving on. With the Habs searching for more leadership, grit, veteran savvy and scoring, Doan fits the profile perfectly as he brings it all. Doan can play any forward position, kills penalties, is a beast on the powerplay and scores 20 goals every year. Doan would be an absolutely perfect fit in the Habs top six and if he decides to move on from the desert, the cousin of Carey Price will hopefully consider moving to Montreal.
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