In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, we’ll break down yet another wild week in Montreal. Under interim head coach Martin St. Louis, the Habs, despite multiple injuries, continue to provide entertaining and competitive hockey against the league’s top teams. The season will come to an end soon, leaving general manager Kent Hughes sometime before the NHL Entry Draft to implement his plan.
Price Set to Return
During the pre-game twitch show before the Saturday night Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs matchup hosted by Marc Dumont, there were several questions about if Carey Price will return this season. Answering these questions, Dumont stated that the team’s expectation is to see Price return on Monday vs. the Winnipeg Jets.
If Price can return and even play half of the six remaining games, it would go a long way to assuage fears about the health of his knee. Fitting him in under the cap won’t be too difficult. Hughes can send down two younger players on entry-level contracts; Jesse Ylonen and Corey Schueneman were both healthy scratches vs. the Maple Leafs and could get sent down to fit Price in under the salary cap. His return will undoubtedly spark trade rumors, but with Hughes stating that he wants the Canadiens competitive next season, it would be unlikely to happen, as having Price in net would go a long way in that regard.
Emil Heineman Signs an Entry-Level Deal
The Canadiens announced the signing of forward Emil Heineman to a three-year entry-level contract (ELC), starting in the 2022-23 season. He spent the last three seasons playing for Leksands of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).
Acquired in the Tyler Toffoli trade, Heineman is an intriguing prospect. He boasts size, speed, and some skill. He will be joining the Canadiens’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Laval Rocket this week to play under an amateur tryout (ATO) contract. He will provide some added depth and a boost of skill and will also be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs.
Drouin Out for the Season
It was initially announced on Saturday night during the french language TVA broadcast of the Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs game that Jonathan Drouin had completed successful wrist surgery on Friday and is out for the rest of the season.
Drouin needed surgery on his right wrist, which took place in New York on Friday to repair torn ligaments. According to Renaud Lavoie, everything went well, and Drouin will be ready for training camp.
This likely means he will still be with the Canadiens to start next season. Injured players normally are not trade targets for other teams. If Drouin has a good start to the 2022-23 season, remains healthy, and can produce points at a top-six forward’s level, he could either be an asset to retain on a team-friendly contract, or he becomes an asset to be used by Hughes at the 2023 trade deadline.
Barron and Byron Injured
Newly acquired defenceman Justin Barron scored his first NHL goal in impressive fashion:
In that very same game, Barron fell victim to the curse the Canadiens have suffered from this season and had to leave the game early vs. the Ottawa Senators on April 5 after having a Senators forward awkwardly lose his footing and roll over Barron’s ankle. Earlier in the game, Paul Byron left the game with an undisclosed injury. Both are day-to-day.
Gallagher Calls Out Stutzle Publically
After the Canadiens’ 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, Brendan Gallagher deviated from the usual cliche answers and showed his frustration. He addressed one play in particular that saw Senators star forward Tim Stutzle collapse to the ice, needing assistance to get up and return to his bench after a collision with Nick Suzuki. He was then on the ice 30 seconds later to begin the power play. Gallagher wasn’t pleased to see that, saying:
“When I was 10 years old, our coach had a rule: if you lay on the ice and the trainers, or if the coach had to come on the ice to get you, you’re too hurt to play minimum of three shifts. More than half the games we’ve played against him, he’s laid on the ice and is right back out there the next shift…It’s just not a good look. Very talented player, and a very good player, he needs to stop laying on the ice. It’s embarrassing.”-Brendan Gallagher
Stutzle has been penalized multiple times for embellishment. But on this play, he did not dive, as Suzuki’s poorly timed hit behind the net did cause a knee-on-knee to occur, and it was called immediately. The issue, however, seems to be the so-called “selling” of the call. While there is nothing in the rules that stop Stutzle from conducting himself in that way to gain any advantage he can, players and officials do take notice of repeated actions. These actions do go against the unwritten code in hockey, which includes a code against embellishment. This episode will only serve to increase the tension in a budding rivalry.
Twenty years ago, on April 9, 2002, one of the most iconic moments to ever occur at the Bell Center in Montreal happened. Team captain Saku Koivu returned to the ice to play his first game almost a year after completing his treatment for cancer.
On a flight, Koivu had suffered some abdominal discomfort. He sought out an assessment from Canadiens’ team doctor, Dr. Mulder, who discovered malignant cells. He immediately began chemotherapy, which caused him to miss nearly the entire season. But on April 9, when Koivu stepped onto the Bell Center ice, the fans erupted into a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. Koivu then went on to lead the Habs to a massive upset win in the first round of the playoffs, as the eighth-seeded Canadiens eliminated the Eastern Conference leader and historic rival Boston Bruins in six games.
Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette puts Joel Edmundson’s name forward as the next Canadiens captain. He mentions his presence in the room and experience in the playoffs as key reasons. Quoting assistant coach Luke Richardson:
“He has fun with the young guys, but he also is so professional. When he came on the ice just for a few practices when he was hurt this year, he snaps that puck around. He’s got a presence out there. He’s yelling and talking to guys and pushing young guys, and that’s a true professional. Especially in professional sports to have that veteran leadership when we had a lot of guys down with either COVID or injuries this year it was huge to just even have him out there in a few practices.”-Luke Richardson (Stu Cowan, Stu Cowan: Leading by example — Canadiens’ Edmundson good fit for ‘C’, Montreal Gazette, 8 Apr 2022)
Hughes has previously said that the Canadiens will have a new captain next season to replace Shea Weber. While Edmundson could be considered one of the top three candidates to be captain, along with Gallagher and Suzuki, he will only be a transitional leader. His leadership could be better used in continuing to mentor the youth, specifically players like Suzuki, to help mold him into an NHL leader.
With the end of the 2021-22 season fast approaching for Montreal, the Canadiens’ roster will be facing more upheaval over the offseason. Keep an eye on our THW Podcast Network for all your hockey needs, as well as THW’s affiliated podcast Habs Unfiltered for the latest Canadiens news, notes, and rumors.
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Blain is a regular contributor as a THW Writer. For over 7 years he has been a part time journalist and podcaster covering the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens and its affiliates. He has made appearances on various television and radio stations as well as podcasts to discuss the Canadiens, and the NHL. Blain has taken the lessons on integrity, ethics, values and honesty that he has learned as a 29 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and applied them to his work as a journalist with the goal to be a trusted source of information and entertainment.