What summer vacation?
After spending July 1 dipping his toe into the free agent market, Habs GM Pierre Gauthier gave the official word that UFA’s Dominic Moore, Glen Metropolit, Paul Mara and Marc-Andre Bergeron would not be back in Montreal for the 2010-11 season.
“We communicated to all of our unrestricted free agents on July 1 that we’re not in a position to make any offers. It’s unfortunate, because a lot of those players contributed greatly to our team last year and we thank them for their services,” explained Gauthier. “Between the young players moving their way through the system, the new acquisitions we made recently and, of course, the salary cap, we just couldn’t keep them.”
While key restricted free agents Maxim Lapierre and Carey Price still aren’t under contract for next year, Gauthier revealed that negotiations are coming along with both young stars.
Reflecting on a busy few weeks that saw free agents and new faces added to the mix, the Canadiens GM admited he wasn’t going for an extreme makeover offseason this year, but he likes the look of his mildly-tweaked team.
“We’re satisfied with our lineup because we had some spots to fill and we did that. But the majority of our nucleus is still in tact,” reminded Gauthier. “There are some young players knocking on the door who can challenge for roster spots. There will also be some development needed on that end as well, in terms of integrating new players into the team.”
A quick scan of birth certificates of the Canadiens’ recent signings and returning players suggest the Habs are in the midst of a mini-youth movement, with Lars Eller (21) and Dustin Boyd (23) joining returnees Benoit Pouliot (23), Tom Pyatt (23) and Ben Maxwell (22).
“Our decisions are not about either building a team for the long or short term; we’re doing both. We want to win right now while also building for the future,” said Gauthier in his first media op since the draft. “When our young guys are ready, we need to make room for them. There is also the salary cap which always factors into our decisions. Going younger costs less than going with veterans.”
Gauthier also weighed in on the long-term contract signed by Jaroslav Halak on Tuesday that will see the Habs’ playoff hero spend the next four seasons in St. Louis.
“I’m really happy for Jaro as well as the Blues who made a big trade to get him,” said Gauthier of his nabbing of Ian Schultz and former first-rounder Lars Eller.
The team will learn more about not only Eller but 21 other prospects at the club’s development camp now underway.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis and Manny Almela.
22 prospects will participate in a development camp
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