The Montreal Canadiens will not sign NCAA standout Jordan Harris to an entry-level contract this spring. The young defenseman has decided, after discussions with the organization and members of his family, to return to Northeastern University for his senior season in 2021-22. According to the release, Harris “remains totally committed to the Montreal Canadiens for the future.”
Despite that commitment, the pressure will be on the Canadiens next year when Harris will be just a few months away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. After his senior season, Montreal would only retain his draft rights through Aug. 15, 2022, after which time he would be able to sign with anyone he wanted. Though the team may feel comfortable now, it does certainly pose additional risk.
Harris, 20, was outstanding this season for Northeastern, recording 19 points in 19 games while serving as an alternate captain. A former Team USA World Junior member, the smooth-skating defenseman was a third-round pick in 2018 and has developed quite nicely at the collegiate level.
There isn’t a direct line to playing time in Montreal next season, given the Habs have six NHL-level defensemen already signed, but that does change in 2022. Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak are both unrestricted free agents after the 2021-22 campaign, perhaps opening the door a crack for Harris to compete at the NHL level. That’s certainly not a guarantee, but spending another year in college will only help his offensive development as he logs huge minutes for the Huskies.
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