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It probably didn’t take the Brendan Gallagher contract to tip anyone off, but just in case: the Montreal Canadiens and GM Marc Bergevin are pretty clearly all-in on becoming a contender across the next few seasons.

Forget that they finished with the 24th-best record in the NHL this past season. Their off-season behavior thus far tells us they believe they can climb up the Atlantic Division standings as soon as 2020-21 and maybe even challenge for a top-three spot. Everything about Bergevin’s decisions over the past month or so sends a win-now message.

He acquired a $4.35-million backup goaltender in Jake Allen in September and inked him to a two-year extension at a $2.875-million AAV this week. Allen could end up being expansion-draft fodder, sure, but in the short term the Habs are clearly committing to a competitive No. 2 option to take pressure off starter Carey Price, who has led all NHL goalies in minutes played two years running.

Less than two weeks after the Allen trade, Bergevin acquired and signed rugged defenseman Joel Edmundson to better equip the team for trench warfare. Two weeks after that came a four-year extension for Jeff Petry at a $6.25-million cap hit. Petry has been tremendous the past couple seasons, operating as one of the most underrated defensemen in the game, but he’s already 32. That contract sent the message that Montreal is done rebuilding, that it’s willing to commit to a veteran support group as its young core matures.



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