It’s been a long season thus far, or so it seems, and as of late, the Montreal Canadiens were struggling to put together a line-up, let alone a NHL quality line-up. They played their last game in Florida, against a fully healthy Panthers’ team, with 11 forwards and five defensemen, then lost Cedric Paquette to what appeared to be a concussion, finishing with 10 forwards on the bench.
So the news of a break was much welcomed by many, perhaps for the exception of a few young guys who were touching a NHL cheque in replacement of the players out of the line-up. So when they return to playing again, the Canadiens’ line-up will look quite different than what we’ve seen in recent weeks. At the time of writing this, the Habs are scheduled to play in Boston against the Bruins on January 12th.
Prior to the break, the Canadiens had 12 players still on the NHL’s COVID Protocol list:
- Jake Evans
- Louie Belpedio
- Alexander Romanov
- Brandon Baddock
- Jake Allen
- Ben Chiarot
- Cayden Primeau
- Artturi Lehkonen
- Jeff Petry
- Mike Hoffman
- Laurent Dauphin
- Chris Wideman
Since the Canadiens are benefiting of a 10-day break and that the COVID protocol has them on for 10 days as well, all of the above-mentioned players should be available to play by January 12th in Boston, as long as they test negative. In fact, the Canadiens made a few roster moves today (at least on paper), to reflect the return of Lehkonen and Hoffman from the COVID list and the anticipation of others returning.
Where it gets a bit more complex is when looking at the injured reserve list. For many of the injured players, we don’t have a return date and even if we did, those dates are fluid and can be pushed further, as we’ve seen with Carey Price, Joel Edmundson and Paul Byron, amongst others.
As of today, here are the Canadiens’ players on the short-term injury reserve list:
- Joel Armia
- Cedric Paquette
- Mathieu Perreault
- Brendan Gallagher
- Christian Dvorak
It is reasonable to say that most, if not all of these guys, should be ready to return after the break.
On the long term injury reserve, it’s a different story. The Canadiens currently have eight players on it and six of them have yet to play this season.
- Paul Byron (out until at least Jan.4)
- Carey Price (out until at least Jan.4)
- Joel Edmundson (out until at least Jan.6)
- Joel Teasdale (out until at least Jan.20)
- Josh Brook (out until at least Jan.20)
- Josh Anderson (out until at least Jan.27)
- Tyler Toffoli (out until at least Feb.26)
- Shea Weber (out for the season)
Off of those, Byron is the closest to returning as he was practicing with the team prior to the break. Price was training on the ice but the Canadiens will be careful with him, so don’t expecting hime to start by the time they return. And Edmundson will be re-evaluated when the team returns to their Brossard facilities.
We will obviously know more in the days to come but the Canadiens line-up could look very different than what we’ve seen lately, particularly from the last game they played in Florida where we saw:
Drouin – Suzuki – Ylönen
Harvey-Pinard – Poehling – Caufield
Vejdemo – Paquette – Belzile
Pezzetta – X – Hillis
Kulak – Savard
Niku – Clague
Schueneman – X
If I had to project, I would guess today that the January 12th line-up could look something like this, assuming no trades occur from now until then:
Drouin – Suzuki – Gallagher
Hoffman – Dvorak – Caufield
Lehkonen – Evans – Armia
Perreault – Poehling – Byron
(Paquette – Pezzetta)
Chiarot – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Kulak – Wideman
(Niku – Clague)
In the meantime, the search for a new General Manager is well underway and according to Pierre LeBrun, the Canadiens have asked teams permission to speak to some potential candidates.