NHL free agency frenzy begins in less than 24 hours; what will the Habs do?

NHL free agency season begins in less than 24 hours, sending sports pundits on a feeding frenzy of contract talks, speculation, rebuilding plans and the words "cap" and "hit" being used more times during the summer months than "family" and "vacation."

The Montreal Canadiens have been active since General Manager Kent Hughes took the reigns at the end of 2021 and started pulling.

The Habs have almost a dozen new players to deal with already and will likely be shifting pieces in and out of the team.

In addition to number one pick Juraj Slafkovsky (6'4", RW), the Habs added size and centres in Kirby Dach (6'4", centre) and Owen Beck (6'0", centre).

They also have some interesting pieces that could turn into something more.

Speaking of players drafted that could lace up...

It seems controversial 2021 first-round pick Logan Mailloux is expected to speak Tuesday at 1 p.m. for the first time since he was drafted, causing a swirl of controversy and condemnation from fans, advertisers, the Prime Minister of Canada and more.

He last spoke to the media the day after the draft, where he apologized for sending explicit pictures of a sexual act without a woman's consent to his teammates -- a crime he was charged and fined for in Sweden.

He was on the ice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard Monday, working out alone with a trainer.

He did not participate in the full development camp session due to a shoulder injury.

TARGETS

Skating close to the cap, the Canadiens likely won't be in the mood to splash the cash for the likes of Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, Panthers centre Claude Giroux or Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche centre Nazem Kadri, but Hughes may look at a few other, cheaper options.

Ottawa Senator Colin White is one potential target.

He was linked to the Habs at the deadline, is a previous Hughes client and the former first-round pick may be looking for a restart after declining points production and games played in the past three seasons. He is 25.

Defenceman and elder statesman Zdeno Chara is out there and could be a nice fit being a) a proven leader, b) pretty cheap and c) Slovakian. 

The Habs are already going to be selling sweaters in Slovakia, so why not add a number? Chara gave a video congrats to the Canadiens' number-one pick and could play on a third pairing.

The upside is big and, past association with two Habs rivals (Boston and Ottawa) aside, there's not much hurt in adding a stable, veteran presence.

On that note...

Why not bring Brett Kulak back for a touch of veteran leadership? He was just here, after all.

MOVING OUT?

Though last place last season, the Canadiens are fifth from the top in cap space as per capfriendly.com. This means the team has a shade under $2 million to work with at the moment, so Hughes will likely be actively moving contracts.

Carey Price ($10.5 million), Nick Suzuki ($7.8 million), Brendan Gallagher ($6.5 million) and Jeff Petry ($6.25 million) are the highest earners, and it looks likely that at least one of them will be off the books come this fall.

The Petry Dish seems ready to lace up elsewhere after requesting a trade and the will-he-won't-he Price drama should continue until it doesn't -- drastically changing the ledgers (as well as the entire vibe of the team).

Paul Byron ($3.4 million), Mike Hoffman ($4.5 million) and Joel Armia ($3.4 million) may be worth moving on from to make some space for the talent acquired.