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Canadiens notes from practice: Five players on waivers, Poehling returns

The roster continues to take shape along with good news on the injury front.

NHL: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens announced that five players — Karl Alzner, Matthew Peca, Xavier Ouellet, Phil Varone, and Dale Weise — will be placed on waivers at noon.

Alzner is removed from the NHL team for a second consecutive year, just about to begin the third season of his five-year deal signed as an unrestricted free agent. He was a helpful member of the Rocket last season, but doesn’t want to play the role of mentor while he believes he still has something to offer at the NHL level. Even if he clears, he may not report to the AHL club, hoping to get an opportunity elsewhere. A poorly-timed groin injury made him miss the majority of the pre-season, but he ultimately played in two games, putting up no points, but a respectable 9.23 CF% rel, which is encouraging given he played in both Toronto games, averaging abut 14 minutes per game.

Ouellet played in two pre-season games, but has fallen down the depth chart behind Josh Brook, Cale Fleury, Brett Kulak, Mikey Reilly, and Christian Folin for the battle for the final three defence spots. The Rocket captain played the majority of last season in the AHL, scoring seven goals for 28 points in 47 games, in a top-pairing role. This past summer he signed a new one-year, two-way contract to stay with the organization.

Peca was one of Bergevin’s top free-agent signings in the summer of 2018, but didn’t really establish himself as an everyday player, then got supplanted with the late-season additions of Nate Thompson and Jordan Weal, who remain with the team. In four pre-season games he did manage a goal and an assist.

Varone is one season removed from coming in second in AHL scoring, and split last season between the Philadelphia Flyers, where he played 47 games in a fourth-line role, and the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, scoring 11 goals for 28 points in 22 games. The 28-year old should take a very prominent role with the Rocket, possibly centring the first line, as he has done previously in the AHL, or perhaps move over to wing to accommodate the influx of young centres in the Habs’ depth chart.

Weise took part in three pre-season games and didn’t put up any points, and had sported a team-worst -27.5 relative Corsi-for percentage after his last game. Should he clear and be assigned to Laval, his cap hit of $2.350M would drop by $1.075M to $1.275M. The 31-year old is entering the final year of his four-year contract he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2016. He would be one of the veteran leaders should he be assigned to the Rocket.

In other practice news, Ryan Poehling returned to practice with his teammates after his concussion.

It remains to be seen whether he will play in the pre-season finale on Saturday. Carey Price skated before practice and did not face any shots. He continues to nurse a bruised hand.

The Canadiens lines also point at what we could potentially see as the season gets underway on October 3.

This leaves 30 players at camp, counting injured players. The team has 15 forwards, eight defencemen, and two goalies healthy plus the injured Joel Teasdale, Michael McCarron, Noah Juulsen, and Price.