Training camp is well underway and the Montreal Canadiens have already made most of their cuts for the upcoming season. The team is dealing with a few injuries, some more serious than others. It had already been made public that team captain Shea Weber is likely to miss all season, dealing with injuries. Winger Paul Byron is said to be out until at least December.
Carey Price has yet to practice with his teammates and it seems unlikely that he will start the season on time. Likely for that reason, the team has claimed off waivers Samuel Montembeault from the Florida Panthers. The 24 year-old Becancour, Quebec-native represents an insurance policy for the Canadiens in net. Newly signed UFA Mike Hoffman injured his knee while skating just before training camp and he’s scheduled to miss the first month of the season or so.
The Canadiens had signed former Winnipeg Jets puck-moving defenseman Sami Niku, but a vicious hit from behind along the boards resulting in a concussion against the Ottawa Senators has taken him out of the line-up. Defenseman Joel Edmundson, Cedric Paquette, rookie forward Cole Caufield and Swedish defenseman Mattias Norlinder are all sidelined with minor injuries.
From the lines created by head coach Dominique Ducharme, it seems like the first two lines are set to begin the season. Newcomer Christian Dvorak has left a good impression so far, centering returning Jonathan Drouin and power-forward Josh Anderson. Nick Suzuki will likely be pivoting a line between Tyler Toffoli and Caufield, although that line looked great against Ottawa with Brendan Gallagher on the right side.
When Hoffman comes back, he could very well be the left winger on the third line, with Gallagher on the right. What’s unknown right now is who will be the centre for that line. Young Ryan Poehling has shown some flashes but has yet to show that he can do the job consistently, while Jake Evans, with a new 3-year deal in his back pocket, has spent most of his training camp with Joel Armia.
Pending no trades or further waiver pick-ups, the lines could very well look like this when everyone is healthy:
Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
Jonathan Drouin – Christian Dvorak – Josh Anderson
Mike Hoffman – (?) – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – Jake Evans – Joel Armia
(Matthieu Perreault, Cedric Paquette, Ryan Poehling)
Joel Edmundson – Jeff Petry
Ben Chiarot – David Savard
Alexander Romanov – Chris Wideman
(Brett Kulak, Sami Niku)
Lots of battles are still happening and the line-up above-mentioned might be slightly different. For one, Michael Pezzetta is making a strong case to start the season in Montreal. Time will tell.