Now that we are in the dog days of summer, the news has settled down quite a bit. Usually at this time of year, NHL general managers (GM) go on vacation or take a break. This year, in particular, they will need one after a fast and furious July having the expansion draft, entry draft, and free agency all within a week of each other, July 21-28. There has been a little news coming out of Montreal and some rumours circulating.
Pettersson Wants to Play for a Winning Team
Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks pricked some ears recently when he suggested that he would like to play for a winning team. The Canucks’ restricted free agent (RFA) is yet to be signed, although he also said he thinks a deal will be worked out with his current team. His comments seem to make it sound like he may not want to be there long-term and will be signing a bridge deal until he can become an unrestricted free agent (UFA).
What does this have to do with the Canadiens, you ask? Well, nothing really, but they do need another top center. Habs GM Marc Bergevin isn’t afraid to offer sheet an RFA in an attempt to pry the player from their team. He already tried it in 2019 with the Carolina Hurricanes when Sebastian Aho signed an offer sheet from the Canadiens that the Hurricanes matched. Bergevin could do the same thing with Pettersson, but it won’t be easy: the Canucks have over $10 million in cap space but are over their roster size by one, which can be easily fixed. This isn’t a rumour substantiated by anyone important, but the Canadiens’ current center situation makes it a possibility.
Galchenyuk Linked to Canadiens
Former Canadiens’ first-round draft pick Alex Galchenyuk could find his way back to the Canadiens. The Canadiens drafted the 27-year-old in 2012, third overall, to be their future top center. He started strong with the team, increasing his goal and point total in each of his first four seasons, reaching 30 goals and 56 points in the 2015-16 season. A wrist injury the following season slowed him down, but he bounced back the next season — his last with the Canadiens — and had his second-highest point total in his career with 51. He was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018-19 season and played with four other teams between then and last season.
Galchenyuk split last season between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had one point in eight games with the Senators and 12 points in 26 games with the Leafs. He played mostly wing everywhere he went, and his days of being a center are far behind him. The Canadiens have shown interest, but with the team being very deep on the wings and needing a strong, experienced center, the odds of a reunion with Montreal are probably slim to none. Then again, you know to expect the unexpected.
Goaltending Legend Esposito Passes Away
The NHL lost another icon this week when Chicago Blackhawks superstar Tony Esposito passed away after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 78. Esposito played 15 seasons with the Blackhawks and led them to the playoffs 14 times, twice to the Stanley Cup Final in 1971 and 1973, losing both series to the Canadiens. He holds the record for most shutouts in a rookie season with 15 in 1969-70, winning the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year and the Vezina Trophy for as the top goaltender that same season. He went on to win two more Vezina trophies in 1972 and 1974. He played 873 games with the Blackhawks and, to this day, leads the franchise in career wins with 418 and shutouts with 74.
Esposito didn’t start his career with the Blackhawks, however. He was originally a member of the Canadiens, playing 13 games in 1968-69. He had a record of 5-4-4 with two shutouts in his brief time as a Hab. Due to the great depth of goaltending the Canadiens had at the time, he was left unprotected in the offseason and picked up by Chicago for $25,000. Although he never won a Stanley Cup with Chicago, he does have his name engraved on the Cup with the Canadiens. He is survived by his wife Marilyn, sons Mark and Jason, Mark’s wife, Kim, and their two children, Lauren and Kamryn, and Tony’s legendary brother, Phil Esposito.
Mysak Works with Plekanec in Offseason
Jan Mysak, the Canadiens’ second-round pick (48th overall) in the 2020 Draft, has been doing everything to improve his game in the offseason. He has been working with a nutritionist and taking better care of his body, increasing the weight of his 6-foot frame from 176 pounds to 183 pounds. The extra hard work in the offseason is because he wants to have a stronger core and be able to protect the puck better.
Mysak also worked with former Canadiens star Tomas Plekanec — who also hails from the Czech Republic — where Mysak spent an hour of intense faceoff practice with the former Canadiens center. Mysak also attributes his time in Laval to wanting to improve his conditioning and strength in the offseason. Mysak is currently a long shot at making the Canadiens but could become a member of their farm team, the Laval Rocket, as early as next season.
That’s is the news for the week. The late offseason doesn’t offer much, but there is always something going on when it comes to the Canadiens.