With every NHL training camp, there are always more players than available roster spots. The Montreal Canadiens have a plethora of players battling for spots on the bottom two lines while a slot in the top six remains open for the taking. With prospects maturing and others working to impress, the competition will be tight to earn a spot on the roster. In particular, there are five players who could have a tough time making the final roster.
5. Paul Byron
Even though Paul Byron signed a three-year contract back in February, Byron could still be in tough to make the roster this fall. Byron is one of the smallest players on the team at 5 feet 8 inches. but he showed last season he can be a versatile player. He possesses good speed, can chip in with occasional offence and contribute on the penalty kill. However, he could be pushed down the depth chart by younger players who can do everything Byron does, but better. Byron is a depth player at best and a spot on the team shouldn’t be guaranteed.
4. Daniel Carr
If Daniel Carr hadn’t been hurt last year, there is a good chance he wouldn’t have made this list. Unfortunately, with other prospects climbing the ranks and management’s preference for veterans, Carr has to prove himself all over again. Carr’s advantage is that he plays similar to Brendan Gallagher and Andrew Shaw in that he is always working and going to the undesirable areas of the ice. In addition, he loves to shoot the puck and showed some goal-scoring ability in his short time with the Habs last year.
One thing that works against him is the fact he is the only player on the current roster who can be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers. It’s possible that the Habs could take advantage of that especially since they have a lot of players on one-way contracts and wouldn’t want to lose them on waivers.
3. Jacob de la Rose
Jacob de la Rose has had two NHL stints so far in his young career but it is becoming increasingly obvious that he needs more development time in the AHL. The Habs usually bring along prospects slowly but de la Rose has been one of the rare ones in recent years being given too much too soon.
His size, skating ability and low-risk game make him useful in Michel Therrien’s system but his offense has been minimal in the AHL and non-existent in the NHL. As shown in the chart below, de la Rose struggles mightily both offensively and defensively and there is no reason why he should be force fed into a role he clearly isn’t ready for. He very well could make the team based on the kind of game he plays but he needs more time to develop his game.
Danault wins handedly (Although very small sample for DLR) pic.twitter.com/rVyChrbMNW
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) August 4, 2016
2. Phillip Danault
Phillip Danault was the big piece coming over from Chicago in exchange for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann at the trade deadline. However, he has underwhelmed during his short time as a member of the Habs. As shown in the chart above, Danault has done well defensively but he hasn’t produced much offensively. If Danault could add some offence to his game, he could replace the newly departed Lars Eller as the team’s shutdown centre.
With Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec penciled in as the top-six centres and Torrey Mitchell on the fourth, Danault could get bumped to the wing especially with Therrien’s insistence in playing David Desharnais at centre. It isn’t enough that Danault works hard and plays a solid defensive game. He needs to bring at least a little bit of offence to his game if he wants a permanent spot on the team.
1. Stefan Matteau
Stefan Matteau is probably the most obvious choice to be on the outs. He disappointed big time after he came over from the New Jersey Devils and doesn’t look like he has the power-forward potential some thought he possessed during his draft year four years ago. Matteau has produced minimal offense at the NHL level and doesn’t always use his size to his advantage. If Matteau could bring some offence and be a consistent physical presence, he would be an effective NHLer. There are a lot of better players ahead of Matteau on the depth chart so he will have to find a way to utilize his tools to carve out a niche for himself.
On the Bubble
Every year, there is a player who surprises and another that disappoints. The above players could go either way this fall. Many of these players are still young and could use some time in the minors with the exception of Carr, who is NHL ready and Byron, who could be a victim of the numbers game. General manager Marc Bergevin loves having depth so it won’t be surprising to see some of these players in the AHL or in the press box to start the season.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Ryerson University. I am a freelance journalist and a Montreal Canadiens writer for The Hockey Writers. I previously wrote for Simcoe.com and Last Word on Sports as well as interned at TSN.