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Montreal Canadiens add defenceman David Savard, forward Mike Hoffman in free agency

MONTREAL — After winning a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, David Savard is looking to repeat the feat -- this time with the Montreal Canadiens.

MONTREAL — After winning a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, David Savard is looking to repeat the feat -- this time with the Montreal Canadiens. 

The 30-year-old defenceman signed with the Habs in free agency on Wednesday, inking a four-year deal with an average annual value of US$3.5 million.

"It wasn’t about the term or the money," Savard said. "It was just trying to find the team that wanted me and Montreal showed the most interest. For me, it was an easy decision.” 

Not only will the native of St-Hyacinthe, Que., be playing in his home province, he'll also be working in front of the Canadiens star goalie, Carey Price. 

"He’s one of the best goalies in the world for the past decade, probably the best one," Savard said of the opportunity. “He’s just so good in the net. He’s the third defenceman out there. It’s going to be fun for me to finally play with him.”

The Habs also added a piece to their forward group on Wednesday, signing Mike Hoffman to a three-year contract that carries a cap hit of $4.5 million per season.

Savard knows he isn't the most offensive defenceman, having registered just six points (one goal, six assists) in the regular-season last year. He has 166 points (41 goals, 125 assists) since being selected by Columbus in the third round (94th overall) at the 2009 entry draft. 

Still, the six-foot-two, 233-pound d-man will be a welcome presence for a Montreal team that will need to adapt to playing without its captain next season. 

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said last week that he was looking to fill big minutes in the lineup with veteran defenceman Shea Weber out for at least the next season with a series of serious injuries. 

Savard doesn't see himself replacing Weber, though. 

“I think my role is just to come in and play hard. Whatever they ask me to do," he said. “I’m not trying to be Shea Weber. I’m just going to be myself and play hard and I think if I do that, I’m going to help the team get some wins and get to the playoffs.”

The 31-year-old Hoffman, from Kitchener, Ont., had 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) with the St. Louis Blues last season. 

But the Canadiens lost a key piece of their lineup, too, with free-agent centre Phillip Danault signing a six-year deal with the L.A. Kings. 

Danault's deal has an annual average value of $5.5 million. 

The 28-year-old from Victoriaville, Que., had five goals and 19 assists for the Habs in the regular season last year and added another four (one goal, three assists) in the playoffs. 

Bergevin said Wednesday that the Habs made Danault an offer last fall but he opted to test the market instead. 

"I respect players' decisions," the GM said. “He made a decision. We want to thank him for what he did for the Montreal Canadiens and will him all the best in Los Angeles."

The Canadiens also made several depth signings on Wednesday, including forward Cedric Paquette. 

The 27-year-old centre from Gaspe, Que., inked a one-year, $950,000 contract. He spent last season with the Carolina Hurricanes, tallying seven points (three goals, four assists) in 38 regular-season games. 

Montreal also brought in defenceman Chris Wideman on a one-year, $750,000 deal, added defenceman Louie Belpedio on a one-year, two-way contract, and signed forward Jean-Sebastian Dea to a one-year, two-way contract.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021. 

The Canadian Press

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