Tomas Plekanec came to an agreement with the Montreal Canadiens today on a one-year contract worth a reported $2.75 million.
That's $500,000 more than Chris Higgins signed for with the New York Rangers, but considering the injury-plagued year that Higgins had with Montreal last year, I guess that's reasonable.
I personally thought Plekanec would have topped out at about $2.5 million, but apparently the Canadiens weren't convinced they could win their case in arbitration, which was due for July 30. There's also the idea that the arbitration process can often times sour a relationship, so it's probably best to pay a bit extra just to avoid it.
Now Plekanec will be slated for unrestricted free agency next summer, and I think the fate of some of the Canadiens UFA's this month has proven that a player is best served by playing on a winning team rather than worrying about his own numbers. Just ask Rob Scuderi, or Hal Gill for that matter.
If my calculations are correct, working under the assumption that Ryan O'Byrne and Kyle Chipchura will play in Hamilton while Max Pacioretty plays in Montreal, I figure this leaves the Habs with anywhere between $2.2 million and $3.8 million in cap space (depending on whether or not you factor in the bonus cushion) with only Matt D'Agostini and Gregory Stewart left to re-sign.
That would be an ample amount of contingency funds heading into the season, because as little as $1 million in cap room at the trade deadline can take you a long way, seeing as most of a player's salary is already paid by then.
The possibility also remains that Bob Gainey is not done with his makeover and that a trade is in the works, in which case that cap space could be all dried up by the time the season starts.