• Signing David Savard to a four-year deal, $3.5 million AAV (full details)
• Signing Mike Hoffman to a three-year deal, $3.5 million AAV (full details)
• Signing Chris Wideman to a one-year deal, $750,000 AAV (full details)
• Signing Cedric Paquette to a one-year deal, $950,000 AAV (full details)
Savard isn’t a Shea Weber replacement but he’s cut from the same cloth. A bruising defender, capable of killing plays low in the defensive zone and getting in front of pucks, Savard ranked fourth among defencemen in blocked shots per game and 48th in blocked passes in the defensive zone.
Savard struggled early with Tampa Bay last season but found his game and was a valuable contributor in their Cup run. It’s one thing to play well on the third pair of an elite team. Savard will have to do the same in a top-four role for this contract to be worth it for the Montreal Canadiens.
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On the total opposite end of the spectrum, Hoffman joins the Canadiens to score goals. A left shot, Hoffman will likely be the trigger-man on the Canadiens powerplay with Weber out of the mix. A speedy winger, Hoffman can create offence with his speed and also from the perimeter in the offensive zone. Last season, 29.4 per cent of Hoffman’s shot attempts were one-timers, the ninth highest percentage among forwards. He scored eight goals on 60 one-timer attempts.
Hoffman is not a well-rounded player -- if he’s scoring, you notice him in a big way. If he’s not scoring, he won’t affect the game in many other areas. That said, Montreal has plenty of forwards capable of playing a complete or straight-up checking game. The Canadiens need goals and Hoffman should provide them.
Wideman, fresh off KHL defenceman of the year honours, will battle for a roster spot. Paquette also joins the Canadiens as a depth, checking centre.
Montreal did its best to address the loss of Weber and its goal-scoring / powerplay issues. Hoffman should live up to his contract in goal-scoring alone while Savard will need to elevate his game against tougher competition. A couple of additional depth pieces and all-in-all, a decent opening day of free agency.