And it won’t be Justin Schultz.
Unless you think René Bourque or Blake Geoffrion fits the bill, the Canadiens need a winger to play on the second line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.
Pierre-Alexandr Parenteau may be the man. Like Gionta, Parenteau is a RW who shoots right. But once you get past Parise, the choice of LWs thins out quite a bit.
Jiri Hudler is only 28 and has played in a great organization. But Parenteau is a homeboy who had an 67-point breakout season for the Islanders.
Impressive, for sure. But Parenteau was playing with John Tavares providing a quality of playmaking that will not be available in Montreal, at least until Alex Galchenyuk is ready.
On L’Antichambre, François Gagnon has been pumping Parenteau’s tires for months. Frankie had the right call on at the draft – as did HIO – and we think he may be on to Bergevin’s UFA thinking.
As for a Dman, here’s an off-the-wall suggestion: Sheldon Souray.
Hey, don’t laugh. He’s still got a cannon from the point on the power play, and Souray had a nice bounce-back season with Dallas.
Canadiens fans remember him as a pylon in his own zone, but Souray was plus-11 for the Stars. That would have put him second, behind Josh Gorges’ plus-14, on the Canadiens.
Souray would provide veteran leadership and would not be expensive on a two- or three-year deal, covering the gap until Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Morgan Ellis are ready for The Show.
The bottom line: Bergevin does not have to hit a home run on July 1.
All but the most delusional fans realize the Canadiens are a work in progress. Bergevin has assembled a top-notch off-ice team – including Rick Dudley, who will provide invaluable input on the strengths and weaknesses of available UFAs. The Canadiens, by all accounts, had a great draft in Pittsburgh.
There is talent in the pipeline. Good times are coming.
But the Canadiens are unlikely to contend for the Cup in 2013. So Bergevin and his staff will be in the market for quality, affordable players that improve, rather than transform, the Canadiens.
TSN begins its free-agent coverage at noon on Sunday.
There will be live blogging on HIO.