The Sheer Ridiculousness of the Injury Situation


So, Scott Gomez went down to injury against the Hurricanes.  Some fans bizarrely see this as welcome news, but this story isn't really about Gomez's injury, it's about the organization limping through the second month of the regular season.  The injury parade is not limited to the players in the NHL, but it has also cursed the Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs played a game last night against the Binghamton Senators in which only eight forwards and four defensemen were under contract to the Canadiens.  That is right, as it currently stands, the Canadiens have only 12 available call-ups. 

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement limits teams to a 50 man roster of players signed to NHL contracts in any given season.  The Canadiens entered training camp at 47 players signed, 5 of which were goaltenders.  Amongst skaters, there were 42 players to choose from, some of whom showed up at camp already injured.  Andrei Markov is nearing a return, and was the most prominent injured Canadien, but so were Lars Eller, Louis Leblanc and Brendon Nash.  Soon, injuries at camp sidelined a variety of players, and the defensive depth was already in question, so Pierre Gauthier signed Chris Campoli (contract #48 of 50).  After losing Jeff Woywitka to waivers, the team quickly signed veteran AHL D Joe Callahan to fill his spot.  Then, with injuries at forward and uncertain depth at center, the team made the Petteri Nokelainen trade, which also brought AHL D Garrett Stafford in exchange for Brock Trotter and a 7th round draft pick.  That brought the contract total to 49. 

That one spot looms large.  Gauthier won't want to waste it signing Bulldogs center Philip DeSimone, or even one of the few remaining free agents out there.  I doubt he puts in a waiver claim for Blake Comeau, either.  He'll want the flexibility in trade negotiations as the deadline approaches. 

So this is where we stand.  If things get real bad, there is the Amateur Tryout option that the Wild used last night to sign a 51 year old beer league goalie before their call up arrived via plane.  By the way things look, the Canadiens might need to go that route in the near future for a 4th line forward or a 6th defenseman. 

After the jump, a look at the team's current depth chart.  Yeah, it's painful.  I hope no Habs player looks at it on their smart phone and walks into a lamppost and is out of action for the next two weeks. 

 

Montreal Canadiens Forward Depth Chart

Left Wing

Centre

Right Wing

Michael Cammalleri

Tomas Plekanec

Brian Gionta

Max Pacioretty

David Desharnais

Erik Cole

Travis Moen

Scott Gomez

Andrei Kostitsyn

Mathieu Darche

Lars Eller

Ryan White

Andrew Conboy

Petteri Nokelainen

Aaron Palushaj

Dany Masse

Andreas Engqvist

Mike Blunden

Hunter Bishop

Louis Leblanc

Brian Willsie

Philippe Lefebvre

Olivier Fortier

Alexander Avtsin

Alain Berger

Gabriel Dumont

Ian Schultz

 

Joonas Nattinen

 

28 total forwards under contract, 19 are healthy.  While the Canadiens aren't suffering terribly in this regard, the Bulldogs are:  6 forwards that were slated for Hamilton are currently injured.  The Canadiens still have a decent selection of three likely call-ups to replace Gomez if they wish in Blunden, Willsie, and Leblanc, but any callup makes the Bulldogs that much worse.  The aforementioned DeSimone, signed to an AHL-ECHL contract to avoid using one of the 50 contracts?  His five goals in 17 games makes him the team leader.

 

Defensive Depth Chart

Defenseman

Hand

Andrei Markov

L

P.K. Subban

R

Josh Gorges

L

Hal Gill

L

Jaroslav Spacek

L

Chris Campoli

L

Yannick Weber

R

Raphael Diaz

R

Alexei Emelin

L

Brendon Nash

L

Frederic St- Denis

L

Garrett Stafford

R

Joe Callahan

R

Mark Mitera

L

Alex Henry

L

Joe Stejskal

R

 

With St. Denis up with the team currently, the Canadiens could dress 7 defensemen for the Friday matinee game vs. Philadelphia and let the Bulldogs off the hook here.  While the Bulldogs are arguably only down two defensmen (depending on whether Montreal would send Emelin or Diaz down if healthy), the absence of their top three currently is pretty large to overcome. 

St. Denis now holds a very rare distinction in this year's Montreal team:  he actually has been a healthy scratch. 

In total, the Canadiens have 44 skaters signed to contract, and only 30 of them are cleared to play.  That's only a health rate of 68%, which must make Montreal the NHL equivelant of Tanzania on this list (and I'm being generous).

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