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Report: Habs planning aggressive approach to free agency

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The Montreal Canadiens stepped way out of the box earlier this month when they hired the inexperienced Martin St. Louis as interim head coach, and it appears their creative approach is here to stay.

The Habs will continue to shy away from the typical rebuild model and are planning to be competitive when free agency opens in July, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported on Thursday's "Insider Trading."

"What we're hearing is that, yes, the Canadiens are still on the lookout for picks and prospects in their roster makeover. But further proof that this is not necessarily a traditional rebuild and more of a roster transformation is that I'm told the Habs intend to be pretty aggressive in free agency come July 13," LeBrun said.

"They hope to be a player. While they want to get younger in some parts of the team, they also want to lure a big star or two to Montreal as part of this roster transformation."

St. Louis could potentially attract free agents to Montreal if he stays on as head coach beyond this season, another NHL club told LeBrun. The basement-dwelling Canadiens lost their first three games under the Hall of Famer's tenure after taking the reins on Feb. 9, but they've since rattled off four straight victories, including a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In his introductory press conference, St. Louis said that he didn't come to Montreal "to be a substitute teacher" and planned on being with the team for "a long time."

The Canadiens have been at the heart of a handful of rumors, with the March 21 trade deadline nearing. Veteran defenseman and pending unrestricted free agent Ben Chiarot has reportedly drawn interest from contending teams, while general manager Kent Hughes said the club would move on from blue-liner Jeff Petry if there's a fit.

Hughes said in January that the Habs aren't feeling any pressure to get everything done by the trade deadline, but they're open to all potential deals, according to The Athletic.

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