It has been a busy week for the Montreal Canadiens. They are in the middle of a demanding schedule with a trip through Florida, and Kent Hughes attended his first general manager (GM) meetings. With the trade deadline over and Hughes passing that first test, the team is now looking forward to the offseason and the many decisions they have to make regarding player movement and the NHL draft. There is still some hockey to play first, and the news from the past week.
Canadiens Caufield Wins Rookie of the Month
Cole Caufield has been on an incredible tear since Martin St-Louis took over as head coach. Caufield had only eight points in his first 30 games, but in the last 15 games, he scored 15 points with seven goals. Since St-Louis has been behind the bench, Caufield has scored 25 points in 23 games and put him right back into the rookie scoring race; although he won’t catch the leaders, he certainly is proving he is what the hype said he would be. Caufield is the first Canadien rookie to win rookie of the month since Carey Price in March of 2008.
Caufield had a disastrous start to the season and was even sent down to the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League (AHL). However, since new head coach St-Louis took over, Caufield has been on fire, scoring 14 goals and 26 points in 23 games, putting him on pace for 22 goals and 49 points for the season. His 15 points in 15 games for March is the most in one month for a Canadiens rookie since Michael Ryder had 16 in 2004. Caufield’s teammate Rem Pitlick was runner up for the honour, scoring 11 points in 15 games.
Canadiens Could Trade Carey Price
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has been recovering from knee surgery and a hip injury. He has been getting closer to returning to the Habs in recent weeks and could get a game or two in before the end of the season. If Price gets healthy, the Canadiens management might want to keep him but could potentially move him to relieve cap space by removing all or part of Price’s $10.5 million contract. Price has stated his desire to stay in Montreal, and Hughes has made no mention of moving him, but the offseason could be different.
Moving Price might not be easy either – he does have a no-move clause (NMC) in his contract and would have to approve any deal the Canadiens want to make. If he is healthy and gets some games this season, it will depend on what direction Hughes and the Habs want to go for next season. They have said in past interviews that they want to be involved in this year’s free agents and do what they can to improve the club. If this is the case, Price is better to be left where he is. If the team wants to rebuild and start dumping contracts for cap space, moving Price is inevitable. Whatever happens this offseason, it will be interesting who will want to take on Price’s contract, and if Price intends to play for whatever team does, he is at the age where he will want to be on a contender, and most of those teams don’t have the cap space for him.
Canadiens Taking Their Time With Mailloux
During the recent GM meetings, Hughes sat down and had several interviews, and in one of them, last year’s contentious draft pick was brought up. Mailloux was drafted 31st in the 2021 draft by ex-GM Marc Bergevin and his assistant GM Trevor Timmins. The pick divided the Habs fans and media due to Mailloux’s controversy. Due to a charge in Sweden of distributing an offensive picture and defamation, Mailloux had asked not to be drafted, but the Habs selected him anyway. Upon returning to Canada, Mailloux was suspended by the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for half the season; he returned in January and scored nine points in 12 games before ending his season with a shoulder injury.
Related: Canadiens’ Top 5 Defensive Prospects
Hughes states it’s not Mailloux’s development or potential they are worried about but how he develops as a person. Since he returned from Sweden, Mailloux has been taking training lessons and seeing psychologists. Hughes will not sign Mailloux to a contract until he and members of the organization are satisfied with his progress. A task force was created to deal with the Mailloux situation, led by vice president of community engagement Genevieve Paquette, CH president of sports and entertainment France-Margaret Belanger and vice president of communications Chantel Machabee. Once all involved are satisfied with his progress, Hughes will move forward with the young prospect.
Canadiens Sign Prospects
Last week, the Canadiens signed one of their top defensive prospects, Jordan Harris, then this week they made two more signings. First was the UMass-Lowell River Hawks forward Lucas Condotta. The 6’2″ 208 Lbs Condotta had 52 points in 121 games through four seasons with the River Hawks; he signed a one-year entry-level contract (ELC) starting in 2022-23 and will sign a professional tryout (PTO) with the Laval rocket to end the season.
The Habs also signed Emil Heineman to a three-year ELC, which will start in 2022-23. Heineman was the prospect the Canadiens obtained in the Tyler Toffoli deal with the Calgary Flames, and he has 11 goals and 16 points in 38 games with Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He will also sign a PTO with Laval to finish out the season.
In other news, Jonathan Drouin is in New York to get a second opinion on his injured wrist to see if he can avoid surgery, and Hughes kept a promise to his Boston Junior Eagles AAA U16 team that if they qualified for the Chipotle U16 Tournament in Detroit, he would come back and coach them one last time. Before being named the Canadiens’ 18th GM, he coached the team for four seasons; he was replaced by Hall of Famer Brian Leetch when hired by the Habs.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com.Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on JblamSports and JDFSports Podcasts; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.