Canadiens News & Rumors: Schedules, Dubois, DiPietro & More

In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, the Habs preseason schedule is released to the public, and rumors are swirling around about what the next step for general manager Kent Hughes will be. With the NHL Draft approaching in less than one week, teams will be arriving in Montreal, and trade talks will intensify. Will the Habs make a splash with a trade on the draft floor to move up, or will they add to their roster?

Canadiens’ Preseason Schedule is Released

Montreal released its preseason schedule. This season, the Canadiens will need this to not only prepare but also select their lineup for the regular season. Many positions will be up for grabs and the team’s young prospects will be given time to show they belong, or how far their development has come.

The Habs have a full schedule of eight games. Four of them will be against division rival Ottawa Senators, and three will be played back-to-back over a six-night stretch to end the preseason. This includes one game in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador and one in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. This type of schedule could set off a heated rivalry next season between the two franchises at the NHL and American Hockey League levels.

Canadiens Have Interest in a Goaltender

Rick Dhaliwal, who covers the Vancouver Canucks for the Athletic, and hosts a show on CHEK TV in British Columbia, claims that the Canadiens may have interest in goaltender Mike DiPietro.

DiPietro, a 2017 third-round pick of the Canucks, has begun to fall down their depth charts as Thatcher Demko has solidified himself as the franchise goaltender and the development of their younger goaltenders takes priority. 

In 2017, he backstopped the host Windsor Spitfires to a Memorial Cup title. In 2019, he posted a 1.23 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage (SV%) in four games playing for Team Canada, as they lost to Finland in the Quarter-Finals in overtime. His transition to the professional ranks has had its share of highs and lows. While he has posted a winning record and kept his career SV% at .905, he has dealt with injury problems.

Related: Canadiens Should Trade Up to Improve Prospect Pool

If the Canadiens are interested in DiPietro, it would be for two reasons. They are in search of insurance in case Carey Price cannot play again this season, but also as an upgrade on Samuel Montembeault as Jake Allen’s backup. It would also ensure that Cayden Primeau is left to develop with the Laval Rocket while the Canadiens play another season in which they are expected to struggle.

Habs Looking to Add Another Top-10 Pick

While the focus is on who the Canadiens will select first overall at the 2022 Draft, it would seem they are in search of moving up to obtain another top-10 pick according to Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia. 

The Canadiens are in a favorable position to make that a reality. It may require a roster player as well as the 26th pick acquired from the Calgary Flames in the Tyler Toffoli trade, but with 14 picks (seven of which are in the top 90) at their disposal this year, as well as a deep pool of good prospects, they should at least try.

Is There Room in Montreal for a Big Finnish Winger?

Once again, Jesse Puljujarvi wants out of Edmonton. According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 24-year-old former fourth overall pick is ready to move on from the Edmonton Oilers. In his article, he shares replies from NHL executives on the value of a winger who, despite playing with two of the best centers in the game, couldn’t become more than a third-line winger. Essentially, they peg his value at no more than a second-round pick.

The Canadiens have been rumored to have interest in Puljujarvi in the past, and there is nothing concrete to link the two together for now, but, with a Canadiens roster in search of wingers with speed, size, and some skill, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see a possible trade. The cost of a second-round pick for the restricted free agent (RFA) rights of a 6-foot-4 player who is a puck control style player and analytics dream, doesn’t seem too expensive for a team in transition to take a risk and try for a home run swing.

Dubois of Interest to Montreal

Since his draft season, Pierre-Luc Dubois has been linked to the Montreal Canadiens. This summer is no exception as he has stated he wants to test free agency when his contract is up with the Winnipeg Jets two seasons from now. Ken Wiebe, who covers the Winnipeg Jets for Sportsnet, confirmed that Hughes and the new management team have continued that interest in the 6-foot-3, 218-pound center.

Pierre-Luc Dubois Winnipeg Jets
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winnipeg Jets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There is no question the Canadiens require center depth, especially ones who can fill a top-six role and produce offensively. Dubois has the added size the team is in search of as well.

“This isn’t to suggest a deal for Dubois is imminent, but with the Montreal Canadiens also having interest in the power forward, this could be as simple as trying to drum up a bidding war – since the Jets’ primary objective is to get a one-year contract done and then get to work on convincing the Montreal product to reconsider his long-range thinking and eventually sign on the dotted line and take his place as a foundational piece.”

Ken Wiebe

If this were a move made before the draft, it could signal that the Canadiens would likely select Juraj Slafkovsky with the top pick. However, a trade of this magnitude would be costly, as Winnipeg would be in search of additional draft capital and defensive prospects. So don’t be surprised to hear that the ask in return is more than one first-round pick, and the likely addition of prospect Kaiden Guhle as well.

Canadiens Willing to Trade Back?

During the June 30 episode of Insider Trading on TSN, Pierre Lebrun shared some interesting information. First, the Habs brain trust is undecided on who to pick first overall. But also that they are looking at all scenarios, stating “There are some who believe Montreal is waiting to see if the Devils pick up the phone to see what it would take to flip the picks to ensure they can take winger Juraj Slafkovsky”.

The Canadiens taking their time to decide, publicly that is, about who they will select, opens the door to intrigue with the New Jersey Devils. They are a team set at center and require scoring wingers, so this could be a way to leverage their need to improve now to gain an asset to help the Habs, and, to still pick the player they likely have targeted in centerman Shane Wright. It could be possible to take on a contract, another first-round pick, or a quality prospect to help with the Canadiens’ rebuild. At the very least, it demonstrates the creativity of the new management team. 

With the NHL Draft being hosted in Montreal and less than a week away, there will be no shortage of speculation and rumors. So keep an eye on our coverage of the draft news and rumors 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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