Glancing at the available UFA list this off season, and with training camp one week away, should we be surprised to see the amount of former Habs who still can’t find work in the NHL? Many former Habs have either signed on to play in the Europe or they are still waiting for a call from an NHL team.
This past weekend two former Habs found work or about to find work abroad. Yahoo! Sports quotes from Czech publication Sport that Tomas Kaberle (who played with Canadiens 2011-13 and who the Canadiens used a compliance buyout on his contract this past off season) is close to signing on with Dinamo Minsk. And one time Habs Ryan O’Byrne (2007-11), who split last season between the Colorado Avalance and the Toronto Maple Leafs, has signed on with HC LEV Praha in the Czech Republic.
Earlier this summer, Chris Campoli (2011-12) signed on with Lugano in the Swiss League. Colby Armstrong is taking his game to Sweden (Swedish Hockey League’s Vaxjo Lakers). Arsmtrong will be joined by Petteri Nokelainen (2011-13) who signed a one-year contract with Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League.
Closer to home former Habs Steve Begin (2003-07) signed a minor league deal with Calgary Flames AHL affiliate Abbotsford Heat in BC.
These are the lucky ones. Here is a list of former Habs still looking for work: Hal Gill (2009-12), Jose Theodore (1996-2004), Jeff Halpern (2010-11, 2013), Michael Leighton (2007) , Tom Kostopoulos (2007-09), Guillaume Latendresse (2006-2010), Mathieu Garon (2000-04), Brett Clark (1997-99), Ron Hainsey (2002-04), and Ben Maxwell (2008-2010).
Unsigned players is not something exclusively related to the Montreal Canadiens. For many of these players, the Montreal Canadiens were one of their many stops in their NHL careers. A reflection of today’s reality in the NHL.
Also with the salary cap going down this season to $64.3M (was $pro-rated at $70.2M during the lockout shortened 2013 season), many of the above mentioned players are squeezed out by today’s economics. Teams needing to find cheaper, younger alternatives to fill their 3 and fourth lines, or 3rd defensive pairing, or back-up goalie.