It is only preseason, yet the Montreal Canadiens are already battling the injury bug. A few prominent players are out with injuries and may not be ready for the start of the season. This could have a massive impact on the first month for the Canadiens in a more rigid division than last season.
Top Key Forwards Out With Injuries
Paul Byron and Mike Hoffman will miss the start of the season with injuries. Byron had hip surgery in the offseason and is on the injured reserve list. He could go on the long-term injury reserve (LTIR) list when the season starts because he is not due back until late December. Hoffman arrived at training camp ready to create a new season with a new team but failed his medical. Hoffman will be out of action for four weeks with a lower-body injury (LBI) and will miss the start of the season. Hoffman got the injury before joining the team in Montreal for training camp.
Both Byron and Hoffman leave holes on the Canadiens’ special teams. Byron has been a prolific penalty killer and, with his speed, provides good scoring opportunities in the bottom six. Hoffman is a natural goal-scorer who is a monster on the power play (PP); he was acquired to help elevate the Canadiens’ dreadful PP from last season. With these players out to start the season, the Habs could find themselves struggling on special teams.
Canadiens’ Defence Taking a Big Hit to Start Season
Shea Weber is the Canadiens’ captain and is an integral part of the team on and off the ice. Weber played through the playoffs with multiple injuries, and by the end of the season, it was clear he would need several of them fixed. He has wrist, thumb, ankle, foot and knee injuries and will be placed on LTIR when the season starts. He will miss the entirety of the season and may not play hockey again.
The Weber situation is old news, and the Canadiens will try to replace his defence with David Savard. The more significant issue now is the absence of Joel Edmundson, who has yet to participate in training camp after failing his medical. He has an undisclosed injury and will be out three to four weeks. Canadiens head coach Dom Ducharme says his injury isn’t getting worse but isn’t getting better either, and he would not elaborate further on what the damage might be. Edmundson was the most consistent player on the blue line for the Canadiens last season, and his defence will be hard to replace.
Sami Niku, a young puck-moving defenseman signed in the offseason, will also miss time with the Canadiens, as he suffered a concussion in his first preseason game against the Ottawa Senators. This puts the Canadiens in a position where they must fill two more spots on the blue line to start the season. Rookie Kaiden Guhle has been kept at camp for a more extended look to see if he can help replace Edmundson, while Chris Wideman will likely earn the sixth or seventh defensive slot on the Canadiens.
Carey Price Takes Time Away From Canadiens
Carey Price is the main star of the Canadiens and the best goalie in the organization since Patrick Roy. The Canadiens live and die by Price, and he almost single-handedly carried the team to the Stanley Cup Final. Price has had a few injuries over the years and is known to have knee and hip issues.
Price had knee surgery in the offseason, and the timeline for his return was supposed to be close to the season’s start. He started skating and working with the Canadiens’ goalie coach but didn’t participate in team practices while recovering from knee surgery. During this time, Price decided to get help through the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. This is the same program that Jonathan Drouin used to help him overcome his anxiety and insomnia issues. It is unknown what the problem is with Price, but he will take the necessary time to recover fully.
Jake Allen helped the Canadiens secure a playoff spot last season while Price was dealing with injuries, and he will have to help them do it again this season. The timeline for Price’s return is unknown, but Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is confident that Price will return this season. In the meantime, the Canadiens picked up Samuel Montembeault off waivers to back up Allen until Price is ready to return. Montembeault was in the Florida Panthers organization, and he has a 9-8-3 career record with a .892 save precentage.
Canadiens Have Easier Schedule to Start Season
With many notable names on the Canadiens injured list at the start of the season, it’s a little fortunate that they have a bit of an easy schedule to start the season. After their first game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canadiens play eight of their nine games against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season. The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes will be their most formidable opponents.
The Canadiens will finish October on a western road trip playing the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks, three of the worst teams in the West Division last season. They also will have their first-ever game against the Seattle Kraken. Hopefully, Hoffman and Edmundson will return before the end of the month, but until then, the Canadiens could have a tough time keeping pace with the rest of their division if they are out longer. The schedule might be easy, but that doesn’t mean the games will be.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com.Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on JblamSports and JDFSports Podcasts; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.