Canadiens sign free agent defenceman Karl Alzner to 5-year contract

Jul 1 2017, 8:27 pm

The Montreal Canadiens made a splash in free agency on Saturday.

GM Marc Bergevin bolstered his blueline, adding veteran defenceman Karl Alzner to a five-year contract that carries a $4.625 million cap hit.

Alzner has spent his entire nine-year career with the Washington Capitals. Not a big point producer, he has 117 points (19-98-117) in 591 career games. He’s durable, having not missed a game in the last seven years.

The five-year deal is big on term, although Alzner is still relatively young at age 28.

By every traditional metric, Alzner is an excellent addition. He’s got good size at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, and was a high draft pick (fifth overall in 2007). He was a +23, ranking him 16th in the NHL in plus-minus.

So what’s the problem?

The analytics community hates him.

Alzner had the worst Corsi-for percentage (47.2%) among all Capitals regulars on defence last season. That has been a trend for Alzner during his career, and should be concerning for Canadiens fans, given his salary and term.

In other moves, Montreal signed centres Peter Holland and Byron Froese to two-year deals. They also signed defencemen Matt Taormina (2 years) and Joe Morrow (1 year) to new contracts.

But what about Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov?

Good question. They’re both unrestricted free agents and still available to be signed by any team in the league.

The Canadiens remain interested in both players, but they’ll need to buck up.

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