Montreal Canadiens training camp roster battles
Nine more players have been cut, leaving 27 remaining at camp
The Canadiens started training camp with 61 players. Two weeks later, we are down to 27 as slowly but surely some personnel decisions are being made. So far, the vast majority of cuts have been predictable.
Giovanne Fiore was released from his amateur tryout, which he surprisingly carried over from the Rookie Camp.
Yuri Alexandrov was released from his pro tryout, while Jérémy Blain, Mathieu Corderre-Gagnon, Justin Baker, Stefano Momesso, Yannick Veilleux, Philip DeSimone, and David Broll will continue their professional tryouts in the AHL with the St. John’s IceCaps.
Going Back to Junior
Few Junior-aged prospects were invited to the main camp. In fact, only four. Three of them, Jeremiah Addison, Michael McNiven and Noah Juulsen were returned to their respective CHL clubs.
2016 first-round pick Mikhail Sergachev still remains. He will play in the two remaining preseason games.
Assigned to the AHL St. John’s IceCaps
It is inevitable that some prospects are cut sooner than others. Among the NHL contracted players to make their way to St. John’s are included goaltenders Zachary Fucale and Charlie Lindgren, defencemen Ryan Johnston, Thomas Parisi, Joel Hanley, Dalton Thrower, and forwards Daniel Audette, Jacob de la Rose, Jeremy Grégoire, Charles Hudon, Nikita Scherbak, Mark MacMillan, Tim Bozon, and Connor Crisp.
In addition, Max Friberg, Bobby Farnham, Chris Terry, Stefan Matteau, and Philip Samuelsson were put on waivers for purpose of re-assignment to the AHL. Markus Eisenschmid and Josiah Didier, both on AHL contracts, were also re-assigned.
So out of 64 players to start, 27 remain, made up of three goalies, nine defencemen, and 15 forwards. Four players need to be cut before the start of the season.
Carey Price is the starting goaltender. This is the least surprising statement you will read today. The battle for backup is between incumbent Michael Condon and veteran Al Montoya. Looking at the statistics however, it shows that Mike Condon has struggled this preseason losing all three starts. Truth be told, it was Charlie Lindgren who produced the best performances in training camp, however he was reassigned to the IceCaps during the second wave of cuts.
The visual test has also not been kind to Condon, who has allowed several weak looking goals. Montoya has fared better in his two starts, but has let in a few weak goals himself. The advantage currently appears to be leaning in favour of Montoya, with Condon destined for the AHL via the waiver wire. It remains to be seen whether or not Condon would be claimed should he be waived, but it's a risk the Canadiens seem ready to take.
- Goalie to cut: Michael Condon/
There are nine defenders battling for eight spots on the roster. The Canadiens are really taking a long look at Mikhail Sergachev, but unless there is a major surprise, the Habs will likely release him to the Windsor Spitfires where he can have a dominant season en rout to the Memorial Cup. That would mean that Zach Redmond and Mark Barberio would both make the team to start the season, but will be healthy scratches to start the season. Although allowing them to play big minutes in the AHL would make some sense, they are both waiver eligible, and therefore more likely to stick with the club. It’s important to note that all eight defenders under contract are waiver eligible.
- Defenceman to cut: Mikhail Sergachev/
This is where the bulk of the cuts will come. The top line looks set as Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher will be centred by Alex Galchenyuk. The fourth line also looks pretty final with Torrey Mitchell as pivot alongside Paul Byron and Philip Danault. The second line is cemented with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Radulov. The third line seems set with David Desharnais centring. Andrew Shaw has a guaranteed spot somewhere as well.
That leaves three open spots for the remaining five forwards at camp. The battle comes down to Artturi Lehkonen, Brian Flynn, Michael McCarron, Sven Andrighetto, and Daniel Carr.
Out of this group, only Flynn and Andrighetto would need to clear waivers, so perhaps that will be their saving grace, at least to the start the season. The Canadiens would also lose Lehkonen for the rest of the season if they cut him, as he is poised to return to Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League should he not make the team. Regardless of where he plays, he will burn the first year of his entry-level contract. Due to the waiver situation, and the coach's preference for veteran players, it appears that the odd men out to start the season will be McCarron and Carr. McCarron will be best off playing top minutes in the AHL rather than a 4th line fighting role in the NHL, and Carr, as impressive as he's been, does not require waivers to be sent down, therefore cutting him would mitigate any risk of losing an asset for nothing.
- Forwards to cut: Michael McCarron and Daniel Carr/
The projected forwards look something like this: