Canadiens News and Rumors: Lehkonen, Anderson & More

In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, we’ll break down yet another wild week in Montreal. The Canadiens general manager (GM) search is narrowed down. There are trade rumors swirling around some Habs veterans, the Olympics are approaching and that means countries are adding more Canadiens to their rosters, and much more. 

Canadiens Narrow Down their GM List

Eric Engels of Sportsnet reports that Daniel Briere and Mathieu Darche are two of the final candidates for the position, which was vacated when long-time GM Marc Bergevin was fired on Nov. 28.

The Canadiens executive vice president of hockey operations, Jeff Gorton, and the selection committee will work quickly to name a GM. Pierre Lebrun reports that added to those names is that of Kent Hughes, who was not initially interviewed but has entered the process.

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It has been reported that whoever is selected will need to work in tandem with Gorton. Based on the known names, GM experience isn’t the issue, it would seem that he is searching for someone that can help him recreate the dynamic he shared with John Davidson when they managed the New York Rangers. 

Anderson Set to Return

There is some good news on the horizon for Canadiens fans, Josh Anderson is set to return to play on Monday afternoon versus the Arizona Coyotes.

Anderson has not played since Dec. 2, 2021, having been out all that time nursing a shoulder injury sustained in a collision with Kurtis MacDermid during a game versus the Colorado Avalanche. His speed and physicality have been missed in a decimated Canadiens’ lineup.

Rangers Interested in Lehkonen

The Rangers have been searching to improve on their bottom-six group recently. With the season-ending injury to Sammy Blais, that would make sense.  One player that has drawn their interest is that of winger Artturi Lehkonen

Artturi Lehkonen Montreal Canadiens-Canadiens News and Rumors: Lehkonen, Anderson, GM Search, and More
Artturi Lehkonen, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Arthur Staple of The Athletic reports:

“…sources told the Athletic that Drury and his former boss, Canadiens operations chief Jeff Gorton, have been in contact regarding Lehkonen. The talks are believed to be preliminary”

-Arthur Staple (How to fix the Rangers’ forward group: Internal solutions, plus trade targets for the top 6, third line, and fourth line, Arthur Staple, the Athletic, 13 Jan 2022)

Lehkonen hasn’t been an offensively productive player recently, however, his defensive skills have made him a highly valuable player. His expected goals for (xGF) of 59.54% leads the Habs and shows that he has stuck to his style and performed consistently despite the terrible season Montreal has suffered through. As a restricted free agent, the club retains control for one more season. Add that to the value he provides as a third liner that can play a shutdown role and add value on the penalty kill, it wouldn’t be cheap to wrestle him away from the Canadiens, perhaps a first-round pick or high-end prospect.

Claude Julien Selected to Coach Team Canada

Former head coach of the Montreal Canadiens Claude Julien has been selected by Team Canada GM Shane Doan to be the head coach of the Canadian Men’s Olympic Team. He is still under contract with Montreal for the remainder of this season, earning $5 million. 

This nomination allows Julien to show he still has what it takes to be an NHL coach. If he can lead a Canadian roster of non-NHL players to a medal at the Beijing Games in February, he could gather the interest of several NHL clubs who will be in search of an experienced NHL head coach.

Anderson of Interest to Edmonton

When a team’s season has gone wrong and they are known sellers in early January, there will be rumors on nearly every player. Josh Anderson is one of those players. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal muses that the Edmonton Oilers have interest in the Habs’ power forward. He believes that a 2022 first-round pick and forward prospect Xavier Bourgeault, who was selected 22nd overall by Edmonton at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, would be enough to pry Anderson out of Montreal.

Josh Anderson Montreal Canadiens-Canadiens News and Rumors: Lehkonen, Anderson, GM Search, and More
Josh Anderson, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Anderson has five years remaining of his seven-year $5.5 million deal; he also holds an eight-team no-trade list. If the Oilers aren’t on that list, the Canadiens would still need to take on salary to allow Edmonton to fit him under their salary cap. While it may help Edmonton, it would mean Montreal moves out the first true power forward on their roster in the last 10 years, not impossible, but one that may cost more than what Matheson has mentioned.

Related: Canadiens Fans Have reason to Watch Olympics With Farrell Invite

Dichow to Olympics

According to Swedish correspondent Patrik Bexell and confirmed by Nicolas Cloutier of TVA Sports, the Danish goaltender Frederik Dichow, will be named to his national team in advance of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The Canadiens fifth-round pick in 2019 has been excellent playing for Kristianstads IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league; Sweden’s second division. In his 18 games played he has an 11-6-0 record with a .926 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.18 with three shutouts.

Furthermore, Dichow was also asked about his future after this season and he stated that (translated from French):

“The Canadiens are very happy with my development at the moment. We will see what the next step will be. The AHL and SHL are both excellent options. The final decision will rest with them. I have full confidence in their decision, they know what is best for me. I have had two excellent SHL offers and I know the Canadiens would support that option as it would be an excellent choice for me.” 

-Frederik Dichow

Dichow’s emergence will make the goaltending picture in the off-season very interesting. With Micheal McNiven’s contract coming to an end, and the uncertainty surrounding Carey Price’s future, his arrival could help the Laval Rocket and help to insulate as well as challenge Cayden Primeau. 

Cayden Primeau Montreal Canadiens-Canadiens News and Rumors: Lehkonen, Anderson, GM Search, and More
Cayden Primeau, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As the Canadiens roster begins to look like an NHL team as players return off the COVID protocol lists, As the NHL season continues, 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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