Montreal Canadiens: 6 Roster Predictions for the 2019/20 Season

McNiven could be the back up in Montreal sooner rather than later. (Photo: Canadiens)

With what was a very predictable quiet trade deadline now in the rearview mirror, Canadiens’ general manager will now look to the offseason to improve on his roster, who surprised most with a very respectable showing through three quarters of the regular season. With that mind, here’s six predictions when it comes to the opening night roster for the Canadiens when the puck drops on the 2019-2020 NHL season.

#1 Lehkonen’s next contract will not be with the Canadiens; he will be traded as a RFA this summer

Lehkonen could become a victim of the numbers game in Montreal. With his inability to crack the top-6, and with players constantly pushing for spots on the bottom two lines, along with an expiring contract; this could spell the end for the Finnish winger. The Canadiens find themselves with an overabundance of capable left-handed wingers on their roster and general manager Marc Bergevin could possibly use that depth to strengthen other areas of need. Lehkonen who has struggled to find the back of the net since putting up a respectable 18 goals in his rookie season is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1st. When considering his age and the quality of his play, aside from his lack of finish around the net, he could be an attractive piece to other GMs around the league.

#2 Montreal will add a top 4 LD in the summer and will opt to keep Kulak over Reilly

Habs GM Marc Bergevin will undoubtedly be looking to bolster his blueline over the summer. Victor Mete’s play has solidified his case to line up alongside captain Shea Weber and unless the wheels fall off in the worst way, he will remain in that spot. Aside from Benn, Brett Kulak and Mike Reilly are the other two defensemen currently playing the left side of the Canadiens’ six man unit, and both are RFA after this season. Reilly shows great skating abilities but it’s Kulak’s all around game that make him the more reliable out of the two and the most likely to hold on to a spot on the bottom pairing when the Canadiens add a blueliner ahead of next season.

#3 Domi will not be playing C next year

Max Domi has had an impressive first season with the Canadiens; acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in June for Alex Galchenyuk. Domi slotted in as the Habs first line center since coming over in the summer, however, with youngster Jesperi Kotkaniemi having an impressive rookie season and prospects Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki looking to make the jump shortly, it’s only a matter of time before the hard-nosed forward finds himself back to his natural position on the left wing. With Jonathan Drouin, Tomas Tatar, Paul Byron and the aforementioned Lehkonen patrolling that wing, it would give the Canadiens incredible depth from that side of the forward lines.

#4 Alzner’s contract will not be bought out this summer

Many fans are hoping for Montreal to rid themselves of Karl Alzner and his 4.65 million dollar cap hit, for 3 more seasons no less. However, my guess is the 30-year old BC native will remain in the organization for one more season. A buyout this summer would cost the Canadiens cap dollars for another 6 seasons, a fairly low hit of just over a million, but six years is a long time. With Marc Bergevin in no desperate need of cap relief anytime soon, it would make more sense to sit on the contract for another season. Therefore, Alzner playing in Laval another year and buying out his deal with only two years remaining would be a more manageable transaction.

#5 Suzuki and Poehling will both make the team next year

The two most promising forwards in the organization, Poehling and Suzuki, are looking to make a big impact on the Canadiens roster; maybe as early as next season. With Suzuki putting together an incredible year in the OHL, there’s no question the Canadiens’ brass will give him a good look come training camp; the good all around center Suzuki was the focal point of the Max Pacioretty trade prior to the start of the season. There’s been talk about Marc Bergevin bringing Poehling into the fold this year after the conclusion of his season with St.Cloud, but with his squad enjoying an impressive run, it’s unlikely the Minnesota native will be available in time to make that happen. He still needs to put his name on a contract before coming over, something Hab fans are hoping will come sooner rather than later. Furthermore, chances are Poehling will be turning pro next season, whether he begins the season with Laval or with the big club in Montreal, it remains to be seen.

#6 McNiven will backup Price

It’s no secret that Bergevin will not be bringing back goalie Antti Niemi for another season, the aging netminder has had some ups and downs in recent years and with a plethora of young goaltenders making their way through the Canadiens system, the time has come to move on from the Finn. Charlie Lindgren, who was penciled in as Price’s backup prior to the team re-signing Niemi, will once again have to take a backseat, this time to Michael McNiven. There’s a possibility that Lindgren could be involved in a trade during the offseason, or he will remain in Laval for the upcoming season, as McNiven will prove to be the better option right from the beginning of training camp.

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2 Responses to Montreal Canadiens: 6 Roster Predictions for the 2019/20 Season

  1. Suzuki at center is not a given.he may be pencilled in as a singer.

    Antonio Mancini March 12, 2019 at 10:11 pm Reply
  2. Domi, Danault, Kotkaniemi, and Poehling will solve the center problem for some time. There’s no need to pay top dollars for Duchene. One better-than-average LDman would transform the Habs into contenders. Poehling alone enabled the Habs to defeat the Leafs for the first time last season. I’m concerned about Mete’s defensive ability. He’s a miniature.

    Richard April 28, 2019 at 1:06 pm Reply

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