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Hockey News

Canadians: struggles to follow at all positions during the camp

MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens’ camp gets underway on Wednesday as the players pass medical exams.

The Habs will try to turn the page on last winter’s miserable season, when they finished last in the overall NHL standings. A breath of fresh air blew through the team when Martin St-Louis was called in for relief behind the bench in February and the players hope to continue this momentum and cause an upset by qualifying for the playoffs.

The Canadiens roster that will face the Toronto Maple Leafs at the launch of the campaign on October 12 at the Bell Center will be made up of several veterans, but also a young core that represents the future of the team.

Several fights will take place during the camp while very few positions are assured.

A young team

The Canadiens have just four 200+ NHL game defensemen under contract. There are therefore at least two positions available during the camp, and most likely three.

Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron, Arber Xhekaj, Gianni Fairbrother and Mattias Norlinder attended rookie camp and will start regular camp with strong legs. They will be joined on the ice by Corey Schueneman, Otto Leskinen and Madison Bowey starting Thursday.

Harris and Guhle may be one step ahead of their teammates. Harris played 10 games with the Habs last season and showed maturity in his game. Guhle is known for his leadership skills and his role as a defensive pillar. His Edmonton Oil Kings head coach, Brad Lauer, has called him the NHL’s most ready prospect he’s coached.

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A question mark in front of the net

Everything indicates that Carey Price will not play this season, and that his career may be over due to a knee injury. Jake Allen is expected to inherit starting goalie responsibilities.

Allen did well in a tough environment last season, all things being equal. However, he hasn’t played more than 50 games in a season since 2017-18. He then lost his starting job with the Saint Louis Blues to Jordan Binnington.

Despite a seesaw performance, Samuel Montembeault was rewarded by the Canadians by being offered a two-year contract. Cayden Primeau will want to take the reserve position from him, although it will be advantageous to see the 23-year-old American accumulate games with the Laval Rocket in the American Hockey League.

A surplus in the front

If there are several vacancies on defense, there is congestion on offense. This means that many veterans will also have to fight for playing time.

Players like Mike Hoffman, Joel Armia, Michael Pezzetta may start camp out of the lineup and need to impress St. Louis and management to avoid waivers.

Jonathan Drouin and Sean Monahan could be handicapped in races at camp if they haven’t fully recovered from surgery on a wrist and hip respectively.

Juraj Slafkovsky, selected first in the last draft, could also mix up the cards. If he carves out a position in the NHL at the age of 18, it will be at the expense of a veteran. Slafkovsky could also start the season with the Rocket.


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