Canadiens News and Rumors: Dvorak, Byron, Price, and More

In this edition of the Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, the Canadiens are still in need of making some changes to the roster, and rumors are swirling about what veterans general manager (GM) Kent Hughes will be parting with.

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There is also discussion that Pierre-Luc Dubois isn’t long for a Habs sweater, Christian Dvorak may be shipped out, and Carey Price could be healthy and ready for a full NHL season. Plus, the arrival of a local defenceman to help Montreal’s power play, and veteran Canadiens forward Paul Byron is making news off the ice for all the right reasons as a hero.

Owen Beck Excited to Join Canadiens Organization

On day two of the NHL draft, the first name uttered, kicking off round two of the draft, was that of Owen Beck, selected 33rd overall by the hometown Montreal Canadiens. Beck’s game is aided by the fact that he is such a strong skater, a skill he uses as a basis for his overall game as a 200-foot centerman that can be relied upon to play against opponents’ top lines. He can win faceoffs and chip in some offense, as he scored 21 goals and 51 points in his rookie OHL season. 

Owen Beck Montreal Canadiens
Owen Beck, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In an interview with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) “Meet the Future” series, Beck spoke about what it was like that day:

“I was a little surprised. It wasn’t a team I was expecting to take me. Being selected by the hometown team was just an added layer of excitement being drafted.”

Owen Beck

Beck will take a few years to develop into an NHL player, but the 6-foot, 190-pound right-handed center will fit in well with the Canadiens’ new philosophy. He reads plays well, plays with pace, has untapped offensive skills and is responsible defensively.

Canadiens Acquire Mike Matheson 

Mike Matheson is returning to his hometown of Montreal after the Canadiens acquired him from the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with a 2023 third-round pick, in exchange for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling. Adding a layer to the story, Matheson is well-known to Hughes as he used to be his agent. His excitement in returning to Montreal was evident in his first media availability:

“It’s definitely been a big whirlwind. I’ve got to say that I didn’t see any sort of trade coming, but when I heard it was Montreal, it was pretty special. I grew up in Montreal on the West Island, and I learned how to play hockey while watching Montreal Canadiens games. I was a huge, huge fan. Our whole family would sit down and watch every game, so to think that I’ll be able to pull on that sweater and play in the Bell Centre every night is really special. It’s a crazy feeling that’s pretty hard to describe. It almost feels surreal.”

Mike Matheson

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound defenceman is coming off his most productive season in the NHL, scoring 11 goals and 31 points in 74 games played. In those totals, he only added two points on the power play, a role that Kris Letang controlled in Pittsburgh but one that will he’ll likely get in Montreal. He is excited to join the Canadiens and play under head coach Martin St. Louis. 

Related: Canadiens’ Kirby Dach Contract Comparables

He also sees a bright future in a few years for the Habs, stating, “I always dreamed of playing for the Canadiens, and now I want to win a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens.” Lofty goals, but at 28 years of age and now playing a leadership role on a rebuilding squad, one that could happen if the stars align. Matheson has four seasons remaining on that contract with a cap hit of $4.875 million.

Dvorak Still on the Trade Block

Despite a busy offseason so far, Hughes still wants to create cap space to be able to afford a new contract for restricted free agent Kirby Dach. But there could be more than just a need for cap space fueling rumors.  As long as there are rumors linking Dubois to Montreal, it is highly likely that Christian Dvorak’s name will remain in the rumor mill as well, as he is seen as a plausible piece in any package deal for the Jets center. 

With four years remaining at a reasonable $4.45 million cap hit, the 26-year-old centerman has too reasonable of a contract to not be of interest to several teams across the NHL. Sources tell Jimmy Murphy that there is far too much smoke behind the rumors and that they don’t expect to see Dvorak starting the season with the Canadiens. 

Without a blockbuster deal to clear cap space or bring in an upgrade at center, it’s highly likely that Dvorak remains in Montreal. If he does remain, his role on the Canadiens’ roster would be one in support of Dach and Nick Suzuki, taking on a matchup role to ease the defensive burden on the younger centers.

Lord Byron Saves

Paul Byron was spending his summer rehabbing injuries, training for next season, and taking some time to spend with the family at the cottage as most dads do. Then, while preparing to go fishing, a float plane crashed into the lake.

By all accounts, Byron didn’t hesitate to leap into the water to rescue the pilot. Just minutes after he retrieved the man from the plane, the Sûreté du Québec (Quebec Provincial Police) arrived to help rescue the pilot. The good news is that the pilot was taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. Byron’s quick actions likely saved the pilot’s life, and that deserves recognition. 

Winnipeg’s Dubois Signs His Offer Sheet

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois has signed his Qualifying Offer (QO). The one-year deal would allow the Jets, or any team acquiring him, to sign him to an eight-year contract extension next July.

This should stop the trade rumors swirling around him and his desire to play in Montreal someday? Right? Wrong. According to Jimmy Murphy, Dubois’ agent, Pat Brisson, is doing everything he can to make a trade to Montreal happen. Because of this, rumors linking the 6-foot-3 centerman to the Canadiens will continue until he signs an eight-year extension with the Jets or he’s actually traded to the Canadiens.

Price Expected to Be Ready

According to Stephane Waite, during an interview on TSN 690, he believes that Carey Price will be ready to play for the Canadiens at the start of next season.

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As Price’s former goaltending coach of eight years, the two have kept a friendship even after Waite’s dismissal. This relationship gives him access to the likely future hall of fame goaltender. 

“I’m expecting it’s going to be him (in net) in September and he’s going to be healthy. But like every goalie at this age, you can’t play him 60 games anymore. You’ve got to be smart with the way you manage him for the games and practices. That’s why it’s very important to have a good backup like Jake Allen. He can take easily 30 to 35 games a year and leave Carey no more than 45 games. I think there’s a lot of hockey left in Carey and, honestly, if I had to bet some money I think I’d bet that Carey is going to be ready for next season.”

Stephane Waite

The Canadiens would like to see Price return healthy and end the uncertainty about his future as an NHL goaltender with the Habs. If he does return healthy and can shoulder 45 games or more in a season, it could go a long way in keeping the Canadiens competitive and also buys Hughes time to sign or draft and develop his future replacement.

As the dog days of summer continue, keep an eye on our coverage on the THW Podcast Network for all your hockey needs. This includes THW’s affiliated podcast Habs Unfiltered for the latest Canadiens news, notes, and rumors.

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