In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, the 2023 World Juniors have kicked off in Halifax and Moncton with six Habs’ prospects representing their respective countries, defenseman Justin Barron has been recalled from the Laval Rocket, and insider Pierre LeBrun provides the latest trade chatter surrounding Montreal.
Plus, Samuel Montembeault is honored by his former junior team and the Canadiens are well-represented at the Spengler Cup with Team Canada.
A WJC Update
No NHL team has more prospects playing in this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship than the Habs with six of their draft picks making their nations’ final rosters.
Oliver Kapanen (captain – Finland), Filip Mešár (alternate captain – Slovakia), and Vinzenz Rohrer (captain – Austria) have all been given leadership roles. Meanwhile, defenseman Adam Engström potted two assists in Sweden’s opener against Austria, a game that Rohrer missed due to illness. Engström added his first goal of the tournament against Germany on Tuesday afternoon. Joshua Roy and Team Canada dropped their first content against Czechia while Lane Hutson and Team USA posted a victory over Latvia.
After being upset on opening day by Switzerland, Finland rebounded with a convincing win over Slovakia on the strength of two points from Kapanen and an excellent overall performance which earned him Player of the Game honors for his team.
Barron Gets the Call
Following a disappointing training camp cut and a solid start to the 2022-23 campaign in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Rocket, Barron has been recalled for his second stint with the Canadiens after being acquired from the Colorado Avalanche at the Trade Deadline last season.
The 21-year-old has seven goals, including five on the power play, and 16 points in 25 games with Laval. In addition to being a welcomed healthy body for Montreal’s banged-up defense corps as they continue their extended holiday road trip, Barron will likely be given the chance to provide a boost to the Habs’ struggling man advantage as they could certainly use his prowess at the point. If he replaces Wideman in the lineup, the Canadiens could have as many as five rookies on the blue line.
Habs’ Players Drawing Interest
In a recent appearance on RDS, insider Pierre LeBrun indicated that several Montreal players are popular on the trade market with the deadline just over two months away.
Related: Biggest NHL Trade Rumors 2022: Eastern Conference Teams
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He mentioned that management is still deciding whether to keep Sean Monahan and attempt to re-sign him, especially if the offers they receive aren’t good enough, but he still believes that the centreman will ultimately be moved by Mar. 3. LeBrun also thinks that general manager Kent Hughes will have a tough time moving Jonathan Drouin and Evgenii Dadonov given how many talented forwards are expected to be available.
LeBrun also mentioned that the Canadiens are fielding a lot of interest in Joel Edmundson and Josh Anderson, two players they aren’t keen on moving just yet, but they are listening to trade proposals. No Habs player has generated more calls than Anderson, who brings a unique combination of skills to the table and who the Habs want as a key piece to the rebuild. It feels like it will only be a matter of time before Hughes receives an offer he can’t refuse for both of these players.
Montembeault Honored in Blainville
Habs’ netminder Samuel Montembeault spent four seasons playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Before the holiday break, he was recognized by his former squad. Section 108 of the team’s home arena right behind the net he occupied most often has been renamed the “Sam Montembeault section”.
The goalie played 154 junior games with the Armada and led them to the President’s Cup final in 2017 before being drafted into the NHL by the Florida Panthers.
Canadiens at the Spengler Cup
The Spengler Cup, another hockey holiday tradition, is underway in Davos, Switzerland. This year’s tournament features a current as well as several former members of the Habs and the Rocket on Team Canada. David Desharnais, who played for the Habs from 2012-2017, is the captain of the Canadian squad. He’s been playing professional hockey in Switzerland with Fribourg-Gotteron for the past four seasons.
Desharnais is joined by Daniel Carr, Josh Brook, Tobie Paquette-Bisson, and Nicolas Beaudin, who has an NHL contract and is on loan from Laval. Beaudin, a former first-round pick, was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this season. He has 12 points in 14 games since joining the Rocket.
What’s Next for the Canadiens?
The Habs resume their seven-game road trip after the holiday break on Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They will also make stops in Florida, Washington, and Nashville before returning home to face the New York Rangers on Jan. 5.
Brendan Gallagher, who has been sidelined for the past few weeks with a lower-body injury, has joined the team for this second part of the trip and is getting closer to a return. He practiced Tuesday with a non-contact jersey. Mike Matheson, Monahan, and David Savard remained in Montreal to continue their rehab.