Canadiens News & Rumours: Price, Petry, Lehkonen & More

The Montreal Canadiens’ season continues to go terribly, but some fans are optimistic for the future. With the hiring of Jeff Gorton as vice president of hockey operations (VPHO) and Kent Hughes as general ,anager (GM), the club is headed in a new direction and hopefully a brighter future. With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Canadiens will move some pieces that will hopefully bring returns that will help the team down the road. Here is the news and rumours from the past week.

Price Talks to the Press

Carey Price helped lead the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final this past June, and he hasn’t played one minute since. In the offseason, Price had surgery on his knee and therapy on his hip before also putting himself in the NHL/NHLPA assistance program for 30 days. Most thought during the offseason that Price would be ready to start the season, but with him entering the program, it pushed back the rehab on his knee and kept him out of the lineup even longer. He’s not only missed every game, but he has also barely practiced. Price returned to the ice this week in full gear but faced no shots.

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

This week, Price met with the media for the first time this season, and he stated it has been hard to watch the team and not be able to help – sitting on the sidelines when the team is struggling is hard. He also addressed his injuries and how he is taking it one day at a time – with all his setbacks, he doesn’t want to guarantee that he will play this season. He did make it clear that he has no plan to leave the organization, and Montreal is where he wants to be. The next few weeks will determine whether or not he can play this season as he continues skating and movement drills.

Canadiens Could Trade Petry

Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry is having one of the worst seasons of his career. After four straight seasons of over 40 points, he has only five points in 36 games. His play on the ice is noticeably off at both ends, so much so that the Habs have been using Ben Chiarot as their number one defencemen. Fans and media alike have been wondering what’s wrong with Petry. If he’s playing with injuries or not, he is not playing up to par and is a huge factor as to why the Canadiens are struggling.

Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens
Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In an interview with LaPresse, Hughes mentioned that Petry has not asked for a trade, but he is willing to move Petry if it works for both parties. Hughes and Gorton met with him on the recent road trip to discuss his situation. Petry’s wife and family have been living in the US since Quebec tightened their restrictions due to COVID-19 and it has been very hard for him. Hughes reiterated that no trade was requested, but if they can move him to improve the future of the Habs and help him with his situation, they will move him. Petry’s contract could be hard to move. He is in the first year of a four-year contract worth $6.25 million.

Canadiens’ Lehkonen Could be a Hot Commodity at the Deadline

The Canadiens will be sellers at the trade deadline, and Artturi Lehkonen is someone teams have interest in buying. He was instrumental in helping the Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup Final with his hard-nosed two-way play. He also scored the biggest goal in recent Habs history – the game-winner against the Vegas Golden Knights to send the Canadiens to the Finals.

Related: Canadiens Would Benefit From Trading Artturi Lehkonen

One team in particular showing interest in Lehkonen is the New York Rangers. Gorton’s old team is searching for a player with his talents to replace Samuel Blais, who is injured and leaves a significant hole on the third line. Other groups have also shown interest, which could lead to a bidding war at the deadline. Lehkonen is a restricted free agent (RFA) next season, and any team acquiring him will have control of him for next season. He could help the Canadiens land another first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Canadiens’ Wounded Warriors Returning

The Canadiens have been beset with injuries all season. Price, Shea Weber, and Joel Edmundson all have yet to play this season, and Paul Byron has just made his season debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets as I type. Jake Allen, David Savard and Jonathan Drouin are out long-term with injuries, and at one point this season, the Habs had as many as 16 players in COVID protocol. With all the injuries, it’s no wonder the team is struggling, but a few players are now returning. Brendan Gallagher and Byron returned to action this weekend, and Cole Caufield and Joel Armia were back in Canada after being isolated because of COVID.

Brendan Gallagher Montreal Canadiens
Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With these players returning, the Canadiens are slowly getting back to the roster the team started with this season. Gallagher and Byron will help the team immensely, adding Byron’s speed and penalty killing ability, and Gallagher’s heart and never quit attitude. Armia and Caufield returning give the Habs more depth, and maybe the time off will help them get their games back on track.

Canadiens Send Players to Laval

With four players returning to the lineup, the Canadiens moved Sami Niku and Lukas Vejdemo to their minor league affiliate, the Laval Rocket. The Rocket are battling for a playoff spot and could use the extra help as they try to build a winning environment for their young team. Vejdemo only played six games and scored a goal but has played 22 games with the Rocket, scoring 13 points. Niku played in 13 games for the Canadiens, scoring six points, and is one of the few Hab players to have a plus rating with a plus-3. The Rocket don’t play again until Feb. 2 against Utica.

The Canadiens will also need to decide what to do with Caufield now that he has returned from COVID protocol. He has been struggling with the Canadiens, and in an already lost season, it could be beneficial to send the young winger to Laval to help him work on his game and play more minutes. Whatever the team decides to do, they must do what’s best for their players’ development and with the way the team has been playing, Laval sounds like the better option for the younger players.

That’s the news and rumours of the week. Keep up to date with The Hockey Writers on your hockey needs and teams.

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