In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, general manager Marc Bergevin has tested positive for COVID-19, Cole Caufield is back with the Habs, Mattias Norlinder makes his NHL debut, and trade rumors have started amid Montreal’s disastrous start to the 2021-22 season.
Bergevin Comments Habs’ Struggles and His Future During COVID Quarantine
The Canadiens announced on Friday that Bergevin has tested positive COVID-19. He will be in quarantine at home and away from the team for at least ten days. As a result of the positive test, all players and staff will be tested daily for the next ten days to ensure that the virus didn’t spread.
Although he experienced symptoms for the first few hours, Bergevin felt well enough on Saturday to do a round of one-on-interviews with the Montreal media. Most notably, he commented on the Kyle Beach sexual assault case for the first time since Beach’s heartbreaking interview aired. Bergevin was employed by the Chicago Blackhawks at the time of the assault and participated in the independent investigation.
He also indicated that’s he’s not ready to give up on the season only 20 games in despite Montreal’s historically bad start and the very steep hill they have to climb. He also gave a vote of confidence to head coach Dominique Ducharme and repeated that he won’t make a trade unless it improves his club in both the short and long term.
In addition, Bergevin addressed the elephant in the room, his contract status and his future with the Canadiens which remains unclear even though rumors are getting louder that he will not be back next season. He remains comfortable in his current situation and will always have the team’s success at heart even if he’s eventually employed elsewhere.
Potential Trade Candidates
Bergevin may not be throwing in the towel just yet and could even be looking to add a defenseman, but that hasn’t stopped the trade speculation from ramping up with the Habs already being labelled as sellers ahead of the trade deadline.
Names being thrown out as players potentially on the move over the next weeks and months include Ben Chiarot, Arturri Lehkonen, and Brendan Gallagher.
Elliotte Friedman believes that Chiarot, who had a great postseason last year and is a pending unrestricted free agent, could fetch a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft being held in Montreal this summer. Teams being connected to the defenseman early on include the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, and Boston Bruins.
It is believed that the New York Rangers will look at Lehkonen as a possible replacement for Samuel Blais who has suffered a season-ending knee injury.
As for Gallagher, a move is a lot more complicated because of his hefty contract, his status within the franchise, and the undeniable emotional attachment to the player. But it’s a possibility that will need to be explored.
Caufield Recalled, Norlinder Makes NHL Debut
After a six-game stint in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Laval Rocket, Caufield was recalled to the Habs last week. He put up two goals and five points in those six games and has shown more jump since returning to Montreal, generating several good scoring chances in two games playing alongside Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli.
Meanwhile, Norlinder made his NHL debut on Thursday against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, He impressed in just under 18 minutes of ice time, showing off his smooth transition game.
As of Saturday, the Canadiens had seven of their draft picks from the past five years on the roster. The wins aren’t there, but at least the kids are gaining valuable experience and starting to build chemistry together.
Edmundson Back at Practice, Allen Ready to Return
Edmundson practiced with the team for the first time all season on Friday as he continues to recover from an injury that has kept him out since day one of training camp. He practiced in a non-contact jersey and is expected to see his first game action in the next 7-10 days.
The Canadiens returned Cayden Primeau to the Rocket on Sunday night which likely means that Allen is healthy and ready to come back during the team’s road trip this week. He has been sidelined since suffering a concussion against the Detroit Red Wings as the result of a collision with Dylan Larkin just over a week ago.
The Habs will play three games away from Montreal this week against the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, and a rematch with the Penguins. They’ll be looking to start their first win streak of the season after a victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, perhaps inspired by the return of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ as the players’ introduction song at the Bell Centre. It will also be worth keeping an eye on Mike Hoffman to see if he progresses towards a return in the coming days.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.