In this week’s Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, Cole Caufield is being rewarded for his remarkable NCAA season at Wisconsin, Carey Price reaches an impressive career milestone, and the Habs are interested in Luke Glendening as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches.
Plus, general manager Marc Bergevin gives a mid-season assessment of his team, Kaiden Guhle suffers an injury, and prospect Jordan Harris is expected to decide on his future soon.
It’s Awards Season for Cole Caufield
Earlier this week, Caufield became the first unanimous winner of the Big Ten Player of the Year award after putting up 24 goals and 43 points in his sophomore year with the Badgers.
His stellar numbers also gave him the Big Ten scoring title as he outpaced the next closest skater by 10 goals and 10 points. He adds these honours to the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award he took home in 2020.
Caufield, Montreal’s first-round pick in 2019, and his teammate Dylan Holloway are also finalists for the prestigious Hobey Baker award given to NCAA’s top player.
Wisconsin advanced to the Big Ten Tournament final this week thanks to a comeback victory over Penn State after Caufield scored both the game-tying goal and the winner in overtime. He added another goal in a losing effort against Minnesota in the title game.
Despite coming up short, Wisconsin should get an at-large berth into the Frozen Four tournament which gets underway this coming weekend.
It is expected that Caufield will sign his entry-level contract with the Canadiens once his NCAA season concludes.
Carey Price Makes History
Price became the first goaltender in Canadiens’ history to appear in 700 regular-season games, backstopping his team to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. He’s also just the sixth netminder to play in 700 games with one franchise.
The 33-year-old sits tied for tenth in NHL history with 357 wins through his first 700 contests and ranks fourth with a career .917 save percentage over that same span.
After struggling mightily in February, Price has looked more like himself over the past few weeks since the arrival of Sean Burke, the Habs’ new director of goaltending.
Habs Interested in Luke Glendening?
According to Eric Engels of Sportsnet, the Canadiens are suitors for Luke Glendening, a pending unrestricted free agent centre who has three goals and nine points with the Detroit Red Wings this season in addition to winning 66 percent of his faceoffs.
The Habs’ interest in Glendening is not surprising considering the youth they have up the middle and their struggles in the faceoff circle. They could certainly use an insurance option like Glendening for their postseason push.
Engels indicates that Bergevin will have to move money in a potential trade with the Red Wings considering Montreal’s tight salary cap situation and mentions Arturri Lehkonen as a player Detroit would ask about.
Engels also addresses the Canadiens’ biggest need: a puck-moving defenseman. Not surprisingly, he brings up Mattias Ekholm as a fit for the Habs and outlines how Bergevin could go about clearing cap space to acquire the coveted defender because he certainly has the assets to strike a deal with the Nashville Predators.
Bergevin’s Trade Deadline Plans
Speaking of trades, Bergevin spoke to the media this week to give a mid-season assessment of his team and look ahead to the Trade Deadline.
He likes his team and the progress they have made under new interim head coach Dominique Ducharme. He was clear that the high expectations he set for the Canadiens this season have not wavered despite Montreal’s struggles of late.
However, he did caution that it may be a quiet deadline given his cap crunch.
“If the opportunity presents itself to go out and get something that I’m convinced will help the team, I’m going to look at it,” Bergevin said. “People have always wanted us to spend to the salary cap and we did it, but for the right reasons. It’s tougher and tougher to add to your team. You really have to be creative.”
During Saturday’s Headlines segment on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman indicated that some people aren’t exactly buying what Bergevin’s selling and that he might be ready to do something big. He does tend to try and keep expectations low and play his cards close to his chest this time of year only to pull off a move completely out of left field. Expected the unexpected as the GM likes to say.
Kaiden Guhle Suffers Injury
The Prince Albert Raiders announced this week that captain Kaiden Guhle will be out indefinitely because of a hand injury he sustained last Sunday.
Guhle, the Canadiens’ 2020 first-round pick, has appeared in two games for the Raiders, putting up two points and nine shots on goal. He was named the 44th captain in team history before the start of the WHL season.
Before suiting up for Prince Albert, Guhle made an impressive pro debut with the Laval Rocket in the AHL.
Jordan Harris Decision Coming Soon
Once again according to Eric Engels, defenseman Jordan Harris, the Canadiens’ third-round selection in 2018, is expected to decide about his playing future shortly since his NCAA team, Northeastern University, will not be participating in the Frozen Four.
If he does decide to sign his entry-level contract and immediately join the pro ranks, he will serve his mandatory 14-day quarantine in Montreal.
This season with Northeastern, Harris scored 19 points in 19 games and was named a Hockey East Second Team All-Star. He would provide a big boost to the lineup, either in Montreal or Laval, especially with Ben Chiarot out long-term and the Habs’ need for a puck-moving defenseman.
With the Trade Deadline fast approaching, the Canadiens right in the thick of a playoff race, and two of their top prospects, Harris and Caufield, expected to sign their entry-level deals, it promises to be a fun few weeks for Montreal.