The Montreal Canadiens had nine players who will need new contracts after this season, but got a head start on one of them this morning. The Habs' signed centerman David Desharnais to a 4-year, $14 million extension on Friday.
The 26-year old forward is a nice story, rising through the ranks as an undrafted player out of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. After winning an invite to Canadiens camp in 2007, he fought his way through the ECHL and the AHL. Desharnais had a cup of coffee with Montreal in 2009-10 before becoming a fixture with the team in 2010-11. He appeared in five of the team's seven post-season games against the Boston Bruins that spring.
Desharnais signed a two-year extension prior to having his career best season with the Habs in 2011-12. The Laurier-Station, Quebec native was one of the few bright spots on a dismal Canadiens team, putting up 44 assists and 60 points on a club that finished last in the Eastern Conference. He led the team in assists, while finishing behind only Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole in points.
The signing leaves Montreal with only one key free agent up front in recent trade acquisition Michael Ryder. This, however, takes care of one of the few restricted free agents on the team, one who was currently a bargain making just $850,000 this season. That cap hit will soon bump up to $3.5 million per season during this contract.