Defense Depth Chart

Perhaps the Montreal Canadiens biggest weakness this season has been on defense. Losing captain Shea Weber for the season and Joel Edmundson not having played a game yet three quarters into the season can certainly contribute to that. It’s not a stretch to think, or even expect, that the Canadiens’ defensive core will look quite different next season. And the changes will be starting before the March 21st trade deadline.

NHL/AHL

At the professional level, the Habs were able to count on several bodies. The issue is that two of the team’s top-4 have yet to play a game this season, and others have gone through a rash of injuries. The most consistent defenseman have been Ben Chiarot and Alexander Romanov. Up to until recently, Jeff Petry hasn’t been the shadow of himself.

LEAGUEGPGAPTSPTS/GPPIM+/-
L. BelpedioAHL43812200.4763-2
J. BrookAHL400006-2
B. ChiarotNHL5078150.3038-19
K. ClagueNHL211120.1012-8
J. EdmundsonNHL0000000
G. FairbrotherAHL241670.2946-14
B. KulakNHL4929110.2229-9
S. NikuNHL130660.462+3
AHL111670.642+6
J. PetryNHL4849130.2726-10
A. RomanovNHL522570.1333-9
D. SavardNHL421890.2124-17
C. SchuenemanNHL80220.256+1
AHL2737100.3712+4
S. WeberNHL0000000
C. WidemanNHL4229110.2645-18

We know that it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see Shea Weber play another game. But he is on the LTIR, therefore touching insurance and unlikely to retire. Probably gone by trade deadline: Chiarot, Kulak and Wideman. Gut feeling here but I’m wondering if Jeff Petry had a change of hearts. He seems to like Martin St-Louis so don’t be surprised if he’s back next season… unless they get an offer they can’t refuse. Don’t be surprised if David Savard is moved in the off-season. He doesn’t fit the mold set by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes. Edmundson’s future in Montreal? Your guess is as good as mine.

So out from that list: Chiarot, Kulak, Weber and Wideman

Question marks: Edmundson, Petry and Savard

JUNIOR/COLLEGE

The Canadiens have some very good prospects in the pipeline, particularly in the CHL and in the NCAA. We will find out soon enough if Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton have managed to convince pending UFA Jordan Harris to sign with the team or not, as the NCAA season winds down.

LEAGUEGPGAPTSPTS/GPPIM+/-
K. GuhleWHL37630360.9746+20
J. HarrisNCAA34513180.5314+13
L. MaillouxOHL103690.906+6
D. SobolevOHL40111120.3019+9
J. StrubleNCAA2928100.3457+11
W. TrudeauQMJHL39722290.7431+24
A. ZhekajOHL341018280.8292+32

While others could cause some surprises, Guhle and Harris are the most NHL-ready candidates off that list.

EUROPE

It will be interesting to see what Otto Leskinen and Mattias Norlinder decide to do. We are hoping that they will at least come to training camp before making a decision as to where to play if they don’t make the big club. Dmitri Kostenko’s numbers are quite good, but they are at a level lower than the KHL so he will need more development time.

LEAGUEGPGAPTSPTS/GPPIM+/-
D. KostenkoVHL40410140.3540+9
MHL60881.3336+6
O. LeskinenKHL35411150.438+4
M. NorlinderNHL60110.172+2
AHL61120.332-2
SHL1100002-4

I personally would like to see Leskinen given a shot. I liked what I saw last season from him at the NHL level. Smooth skater, usually makes good decisions with the puck. With a season maturing in the KHL, he might just be ready to take the next step to the NHL. As for Norlinder, I believe that while very talented offensively, he likely needs to bulk up and work on his play without the puck for another season.

CAMP INVITEES

This could very well ressemble the list of defenseman that will be in consideration for training camp in the fall, based on what’s currently in the organisation. There will obviously be trades made by trade deadline and in the summer. With management looking for high end prospects instead of picks, new names will most likely be added to this list.

Jeff Petry (R)Josh Brook (R)Jordan Harris (L)
Joel Edmundson (L)Louie Belpedio (R)Jayden Struble (L)
Alexander Romanov (L)Gianni Fairbrother (L)Logan Mailloux (R)
David Savard (R)Otto Leskinen (L)William Trudeau (L)
Kale Clague (L)Mattias Norlinder (L)Daniil Sobolev (R)
Sami Niku (L)Kaiden Guhle (L)Arber Zhekaj (L)
Corey Schueneman (L)

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