Canadiens News & Rumors: Bergevin, Weber, Kotkaniemi & More

In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, we’ll break down trade rumours, roster updates, Marc Bergevin’s future, Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s return to Montreal, Shea Weber, Joel Edmundson and much more.

Shea Weber at Career’s End

It was well known all summer that Shea Weber was going to be placed on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) for injuries he had sustained through the 2020-21 season. But when pressed during his early-season press conference held on 20 October, general manager Marc Bergevin said it’s unlikely Weber plays in the NHL again:

“I think it’s a long shot. You never know, but I would say it’s a long shot.”

-Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin

It wasn’t a surprise to hear that Weber may never be able to return, especially considering how Bergevin had already gone out and spent the near equivalent of his total salary cap hit on signing David Savard, who could fill in on the defensive side, and Mike Hoffman, who can add scoring on the power play (PP).

Shea Weber Montreal Canadiens
Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Replacing Weber will be impossible. He was on the downside of his storied career, but he was still a highly effective shutdown defender who could intimidate physically and add some scoring on the PP. The biggest hole left by his absence is his leadership. Fans are seeing a team start the season with five straight losses, in part due to an inability for the team to find their focus. Something a leader of Weber’s magnitude could have helped mitigate.

Related: Montreal Canadiens’ Options for Solving Identity Crisis on Defence

Let’s Make a Deal

Before that same press conference, there was some discussion on social media by the fanbase openly wondering if Bergevin was going to make a trade to snap the team out of its losing streak. He put that idea to rest. 

“It has nothing to do with cap space, it has to do with the group we have. I do like our team, there are some pretty good hockey players … they are not playing up to their potential. And until they do, there’s nothing that I’m gonna do to make a change just to make a change. Change a fourth-line player just to say I’m making a change? I don’t believe in that.” 

-Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, 20 October press conference

Bergevin is currently in the last year of his contract as general manager of the Canadiens. Thus far, he hasn’t shown signs that he is willing to trade away any of the team’s future to help improve the team’s roster this season. For some, that is seen as good news. For others, they likely would love to see a trade or two in the hopes of watching the team make another deep playoff run.

Joshua Roy on CHL Team of The Week

The Canadian Hockey League has named its team of the week for the week of Oct. 11-17. One of those players named is Canadiens prospect Joshua Roy. The left-winger for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Sherbrooke Phoenix scored three goals and eight points in three games played that week to earn the honours.

The Habs 2021 fifth-round pick has put in the work to expand his skill sets. Formerly seen as mainly a shooting threat, the 6-foot, 185-pound forward has continued his blistering start of the season by adding playmaking to his résumé, adding 10 assists in eight games played as of Oct. 23, which puts him three helpers shy of his total for all of last season.

Kotmaniemi’s Return

It was a date circled on the calendars of every Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes fan after Jesperi Kotkaniemi had signed the offer sheet from general manager Don Waddell: KK’s return to the Bell Center. 

Kotkaniemi was adept at making sure he provided no motivational material to the Habs lineup or any inflammatory statements to the media. He seemed very honest in his desire to thank the team and the fans of Montreal for all they’ve done and was eager to turn the page.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes forward, Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I have really good memories from there. I’m really grateful that they drafted me and gave me a chance. It was a great spot to play for a few years. Everyone knows they have unbelievable fans, great teammates. I can’t wish any better way to start my NHL career.”

-Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Kotkaniemi looks back on good memories with Canadiens, StuCowen, Montreal Gazette, 19 Oct 2021)

With that said, there’s no debate that the highly talented Kotkaniemi failed to live up to expectations with the Canadiens. After being surpassed on the depth chart by Nick Suzuki, and the subsequent healthy scratches in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, the young center had motives for wanting a fresh start, one that he will have in Carolina. As if scripted, he even scored his first goal as a Hurricane in his return to Montreal, helping his side to a victory allowing Kotkaniemi to move on.

But the same can’t be said about the Hurricanes social media team, who followed up a dominating win with a tweet designed to rub salt in the wounds of the Canadiens fan base, befitting of their “Bunch of Jerks” brand. 

The Hurricanes organization keeps stating the offer sheet wasn’t about revenge for the prior Sebastian Aho offer sheet, but I would bet a $20 signing bonus it was.

Edmundson Returns To Montreal

Defenceman Joel Edmundson took a personal leave from the team for a personal issue. His father was home battling lung cancer, and Edmundson needed time with his family.  Bergevin encouraged him to return home and take care of his family.

As of Oct. 23, Edmundson had returned to the city of Montreal. However, he will need at least two more weeks to completely recover from an injury and return to the Canadiens’ lineup. His return won’t be soon enough for his defensive partner last season, Jeff Petry, who would benefit from not having a revolving door of pairing partners or for a fanbase desperate to see a deeper, more balanced blue line.

In A Perfect World

In his unscheduled early season press conference, Bergevin also talked about his future with the Canadiens. When asked if he would like to remain in his current role as GM, he stated:

“In a perfect world, yeah”

-Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin

But that begs the question, what is a perfect world for Bergevin? This may be part of a negotiating ploy, or it could just be an honest answer to a question that he doesn’t want to expand upon. However, it does nothing to end the speculation that is hanging over the team and specifically team owner Geoff Molson. 

As the NHL season continues, keep an eye on our THW Podcast Network for the latest Canadiens news, notes and rumors.

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