Habs Roster Beginning to Take Shape

Hudon, Scherbak and Carr at Habs camp. (Photo: canadiens.nhl.com)

Hudon, Scherbak and Carr at Habs camp (Photo: canadiens.nhl.com)

Prior to the main camp, the Habs participated in a rookie tournament held in London, ON. Once completed, the organization reassigned prospects Daniel Audette, Jeremiah Addison and Simon Bourque to their respective junior teams.

The Montreal Canadiens announced on September 16th that their main camp would start off with 58 players. This included 33 forwards, 19 defensemen and 6 goaltenders. Since then, the Habs have made numerous cuts, bringing their camp roster down to 31 players (18 forwards, 10 defensemen and 3 goaltenders). It’s important to note that Max Pacioretty, Nikita Scherbak, Noah Juulsen and Michaël Bournival have all been dealing with injuries and have not participated in any preseason games. However, Michel Therrien has indicated that Scherbak will get a preseason game and Juulsen could as well before being sent back down to junior. They both returned to training on Sunday, September 27th.

  • On Friday, the 25th, the Canadiens returned goaltender Michael McNiven to the Owen Sound Attack (OHL). Before doing so, Montreal inked the the Georgetown, ON native to a 3-year entry-level contract. McNiven was impressive during his time with the Canadiens and deserved the deal.
  • On Saturday, the 26th, the Habs reassigned a total of 17 players to their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps. The following players were sent down (*injured player): Mac Bennett, Nicolas Blanchard, Tim Bozon, Travis Brown, Connor Crisp, Josian Didier*, Markus Eisenschmid*, Stefan Fournier, Zachary Fucale, Ryan Johnston, Brett Lernout, Mark MacMillan*, Brandon McNally*, Angelo Miceli, Edward Pasquale, Dalton Thrower and Jamal Watson.
  • On Sunday, the 27th, the next wave of cuts included (*needs waivers): Daniel Carr, Darren Dietz, Gabriel Dumont*, Morgan Ellis*, Joel Hanley, Jeremy Grégoire, Bud Holloway*, Michael McCarron and Christian Thomas*.
  • Note: Travis Brown, Josiah Didier, Brandon McNally, Angelo Miceli and Edward Pasquale are on AHL deals. Nicolas Blanchard, Markus Eisenschmid and Jamal Watson are on try-out contracts.
  • Key players still at camp: Sven Andrighetto, Mark Barberio, Mike Condon, Jacob de la Rose, Tomas Fleischmann (PTO), Charles Hudon and Jarred Tinordi. Noah Juulsen will go back to Everett and Nikita Scherbak still has an opportunity to push for a role.

With those who are left in camp, the Canadiens opening night roster is starting to take shape. However, Michel Therrien and the rest of management have important decisions to make with only 10 days left until the first game of the season. Will Mike Condon steal Dustin Tokarski’s back up spot? Does Tomas Fleischmann earn a contract? Will Jarred Tinordi be traded, lost through the waiver wire or be held onto? Can Jacob de la Rose force the hand of Therrien yet again? Of course there are many other questions to be answered in such a short time as fans are eager for the first puck drop.

If Tomas Fleischmann earns a contract, which he should based on what he has shown thus far, he easily slots into the top 9. However, if for some odd reason Marc Bergevin does not sign the Czech forward, players like Andrighetto, Hudon and de la Rose would be the best options to choose from.

With all that being said, here’s an early projection to how the Canadiens may start the year:

Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Semin
Fleischmann – Desharnais – Weise
Flynn/Smith-Pelly – Mitchell – Kassian

Markov – Subban
Emelin – Petry
Beaulieu – Gilbert/Pateryn
(Barberio/Tinordi)

Price/Tokarski

This projection is more based on what I feel Therrien would do, not what I personally would do. Ideally Nathan Beaulieu would be paired with Jeff Petry as #28 is significantly ahead of Alexei Emelin in practically every category. Furthermore, you could push Beaulieu even higher and have him play with Subban, which could be helpful down the stretch as Markov would be more fresh with a few less minutes than what he is accustomed to.

As for the back up position, while Mike Condon has had a superb camp up until now, he does not require waivers to be sent down to the AHL. This could be a huge factor in the decision-making of this role.

Speaking of waivers, Jacob de la Rose is also exempt and Therrien has recently stated that there is no guarantee that he starts the year with Montreal. Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon are also safe in this regard. When it comes to de la Rose, he could easily be placed on the 4th line due to his previous use by the coach and his defensive work. He could push Brian Flynn or Devante Smith-Pelly to the outside. The other two, Andrighetto and Hudon, are far more skilled and if with the big club, should play within the top 9.

UPDATE:
– On September 28th, the Habs sent down Scherbak to the IceCaps.
– Following the Oct. 1st game against Ottawa, Montreal returned Juulsen to Everett of the WHL.
– On the morning of Oct. 4th, the Canadiens inked Tomas Fleischmann to one-year deal.
– Habs reassigned Hudon and Andrighetto to the IceCaps as well as put Barberio and Tokarski on waivers to be sent down (Oct. 5th).

 

With all that is left to decide upon, what are your predictions for the Habs opening night roster?

 

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