With the off-season about to start for the Montreal Canadiens, putting rumours aside of course, there are a couple of players that wouldn't bust the bank, but might pay great dividends in the end.
One of those players is 6'5", 225 pound Paul Gaustad of the Buffalo Sabres. First off Gaustad is big, secondly he's a centre that can position himself in front of the net. Gaustad made 750,000 this past season, perhaps with a slight raise, and a three year contract, the Habs would be able to sign him. How the Canadiens would get the soon to be restricted free agent Gaustad, is another story. Perhaps through a trade on draft day?
Another player which comes to mind is 6'0" 215 pound Raffi Torres of the Edmonton Oilers. However, Torres has a salary of 2,250,000 for the next two years, which might make him a little too pricey. Torres is a quick, gutsy, and hard-nosed player which the Habs could need to fill a hole on the third line. He could be acquired via trade on draft day as well.
Jordin Tootoo, at 5'9", 194 pounds, he would be a good player for Tom Kostopoulos to play with, and how excited would the Montreal fans be when Mr. Pinball ( Tootoo ) would be skating into anything that would move? Sure the Montreal coaching staff would have to curb Tootoo's untimely penalties but, he would be a good addition to the team, and having only made 700,000 this past season, with a little raise, he could be the spark plug on the energy line.
Of course being able to sign Marian Hossa of the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn't hurt either, Gaustad, and Tootoo, would be inexpensive additions to the team. Tootoo is fast, and everyone knows that the Habs are built for speed. Gaustad would fill in as the third line centre, with a knack for being in front of the net, perhaps on the power-play, something which the Canadiens desperately need. Torres would be a little more expensive, but he can also score 20-25 goals for the Habs.
Would the Canadiens benefit from signing a Mats Sundin, or Marian Hossa? Yes, but people always seem to forget that secondary scoring is also required to win on a consistent basis, especially in the play-offs. Two of the three players listed above would be inexpensive, and at least have experience in the NHL, but are still young enough for the Habs to continue building with young talent.
The Canadiens do have some interesting propects still to come up, but no forward as big as Gaustad. Perhaps Gregory Stewart could be a Jordin Tootoo, but if he can't......
But of course, these are simply suggestions. The inexpensive players would still enable the Canadiens to sign a free agent, possiblty two, and be able to re-sign, re-negotiate, or offer new contracts to their already existing players. Remember, Michael Ryder ( 2,950,000 ), Brian Smolinski ( 2,000,000 ) gives the Canadiens almost five million to work with, combine with the amount of cap space the Habs already have, and the cap most probably going up again next season, the Canadiens just might be able to pull of some surprises.