The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Tomas Plekanec to a six-year, $30 million contract on Tuesday, just a little over a week before he was set to become one of the top unrestricted free agent forwards on the market. So, if you're looking for a solid No. 2 center on July 1, you're probably going to have to battle it out for Matthew Lombardi and Saku Koivu (both of whom, are probably seeing dollar signs right now).
Plekanec, 27, was Montreal's leading scorer this past season with 70 points, and its top option on the penalty kill averaging over 2:30 per game in shorthanded situations. He's also a 50 percent man in the face-off circle, and hasn't scored fewer than 20 goals since his rookie season.
By locking him up with this deal, Montreal now has a large chunk of its salary cap tied up in six players, as Plekanec, Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Roman Hamrlik and Andrei Markov will combine to take up, approximately, $34.5 million of next year's cap, which is expected to be in the $59 million range. While that seems like a lot, it's really not that much different from Montreal's situation this past season when it went to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Now that the Plekanec situation is out of the way, the next important order of business for the Canadiens' front office is to settle the goaltending situation, as Carey Price remains without a contract (he's a restricted free agent) and Jaroslav Halak was recently shipped to the St. Louis Blues for a pair of prospects.