The Montreal Canadiens are winding down their season, and things cannot worsen. They are in the midst of a nine-game losing streak and a Habs legend passed away, leaving a hole in many fans’ hearts. With only a couple of games left to the season, it’s time to look forward to the offseason and see what the team can do to improve. In the meantime, here is a look at the news from this past week.
Canadiens’ Legend Lafleur Passes Away
The Canadiens fan base was hit hard with the news of legend Guy Lafleur passing away at the age of 70. Lafleur was a polarizing player who captivated the crowd and was a hero to many francophone hockey players. He was the first player in the NHL to have six consecutive 50-goal and 100-point seasons, and helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup five times. He will always be remembered as a legend and a great ambassador for the Habs and the NHL.
The Canadiens held a wonderful tribute before their game against the Boston Bruins on the April 24; the crowd gave Lafleur a standing ovation for over 10 minutes, 10:10 to precise. Lafleur will be lying in state at the Bell Centre on May 1 from noon until 8 p.m. and on May 2 from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. On May 3, there will be a national funeral at 11 a.m. at the Marie-Reine-du Monde Cathedral in Montreal, not far from the Bell Centre.
Carey Price to See Doctors
Earlier in the week, we were told that Carey Price was not going to be travelling to New York with the team to rest and be ready to play in the season’s final game against the Florida Panthers. Cayden Primeau was called up from the Laval Rocket as an emergency backup for Sam Montembault. Price struggled in his comeback, playing four games and losing all with a .853 save percentage (SV%) and a 4.04 goals-against average (GAA). He looked excellent in his first two games but struggled in the last two, giving up 12 goals over the two games. Price did not dress for the game against Boston, but everyone was told it was so that he could rest.
Recently, the news broke that Price will now be travelling with the team to New York but not to play, instead to see the doctor who performed his knee surgery. He may have reaggravated his knee and could be looking at another setback. If this is the case, it should make you wonder whether or not Price’s career is over; it took him a whole season to come back, which was also marred with additional setbacks, and now it seems like he has another one. If this is the case, then the Canadiens need to start thinking about their future in goal and maybe moving on from Price. Hopefully, he just needs it looked at, and the news will be good for next season.
Dubois Could be Available Next Season
The Winnipeg Jets and forward Pierre-Luc Dubois are very far from reaching an agreement on a new contract. Dubois is a restricted free agent (RFA), two years away from becoming an unrestricted free agent (UFA). If he doesn’t want a long-term deal in Winnipeg, the Jets could let him become a UFA by not re-signing him. Neither side had mentioned anything about wanting to work a trade or Dubois departing the team. Still, if they can’t reach an agreement or either side doesn’t agree with the arbitration decision, he could be free to sign with anyone.
The Canadiens could look at trying to acquire the 23-year-old and strengthen their center position. He is an excellent two-way forward and gives the Habs a second scoring option down the middle to help complement Nick Suzuki and relieve some of the pressure on him. It would be astonishing if the Jets allowed him to go to free agency without trying to get something in return. This year, the Canadiens have an extra first-round pick and have a boatload of young defensive prospects that the Jets could use. If general manager (GM) Kent Hughes feels he can get a top player like Dubois, he should take a chance at it, although there is nothing right now saying the Jets won’t re-sign the young star.
Laval Clinches First Playoff Berth
The minor league team for the Canadiens, the Laval Rocket, has clinched a playoff berth for the first time in the team’s history. The Rocket joined the league in 2017 and would have made the playoffs last season if the American Hockey League (AHL) had a playoff. The playoffs were cancelled the previous season due to COVID-19, and the Rocket was one of the better teams in the league. They took it almost to the wire this season but managed to gain a playoff spot after the Rochester Americans lost their last game.
The Canadiens moved their farm team from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 2017 after only two seasons as the St. John’s IceCaps. The Icecaps made the playoffs in 2016-17 but lost in the first round, three games to one, in the best of five series. This was the only time since the 2010-11 season that a Canadiens-affiliated AHL team qualified for the playoffs. The last AHL affiliate for the Canadiens to win the AHL’s championship, the Calder Cup, was the Hamilton Bulldogs, who won in 2006-07.
Canadiens’ Prospects End Junior Careers
Three of the Canadiens’ prospects have played their last Canadian Hockey League (CHL) games and will now play for Laval or Montreal. Kaiden Ghule, Jan Mysak and Arber Xhekaj will no longer be able to play for their respective clubs in the Western Hockey League (WHL) or the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). This means they will be able to play professionally next season with the Rocket, Canadiens, or their ECHL affiliate, the Trois-Rivières Lions. All three should be able to make the Rocket roster, and Ghule has a chance of making the Canadiens roster next season.
The trio of young prospects had great seasons in the CHL. Ghule had 40 points in 42 games split between the Prince Albert Raiders and the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL; he also won the Central Division Defencemen of the Year award and is nominated for the league-wide title. Mysak had 64 points in 60 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL and was voted second-best faceoff man in the East Division, playing center on the third line. Xhekaj had 36 points in 51 games split between the Kitchener Rangers and the Bulldogs, but is a tough-as-nails defenseman who racked up 138 penalty minutes and should be a shoo-in for the Rocket this fall. All three can sign an amateur tryout with the Rocket once their playoff season is over.
Although it was a sad week with the passing of Lafleur, at least the season is coming to an end, and the fans can now look forward to the offseason and what exciting things the Canadiens have moving forward.
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.