Canadiens News & Rumors: Drouin, ECHL & Alzner

In today’s Montreal Canadiens news and rumors rundown, there is news on Jonathan Drouin. Will he be ready for the play-ins? Can he help the Canadiens make a surprise push? Will the Canadiens finally regain an ECHL affiliate? Is Shayne Gostisbehere on his way out of Philly?

Jonathan Drouin
Jonathan Drouin #92, Montreal Canadiens – February 20, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What does it look like if Karl Alzner is bought out? And in some fun news Youppi! the mascot is finally recognized for their years of hard work.

Jonathan Drouin Injury Situation

Before Drouin went down with a wrist injury that required surgery and three months of recovery and rehab, he was playing his best hockey as a Canadien. Now, thanks to a long layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an interview with the Canadiens’ team he said: 

“I had the ankle and wrist injuries, but now both are healed. I can arrive at work and focus on hockey without needing treatments which is good news for me.”

Jonathan Drouin

If Drouin can return to the form he had at the beginning of the season, it would be a major help in adding the necessary scoring depth to the lineup that hopes to keep up with a healthy Pittsburgh Penguins squad that’s looking to win a fourth Stanley Cup in the Sidney Crosby era.

ECHL Affiliate

Steve Turcotte of Le Nouvelliste, a local newspaper in Central Quebec, has been following the saga of the Canadiens’ attempts to get an ECHL affiliate in Trois-Rivières.

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At one point the chances of a deal were thought to be dead, but former Canadien Marc-Andre Bergeron, a native of Trois-Rivières, and sports consultant Mark Weightman were brought in to open lines of dialogue with the city. After a mid-May meeting, the tone has changed into a hopeful one according to Bergeron:

“It remains a complex file due to the implications on concessions, event planning and tickets sales. There are points to discuss before it can all be put together, but I am confident we are going in the right direction.”

Marc-Andre Bergeron
Carolina Hurricanes MARC-ANDRE BERGERON - Photo By Andy Martin Jr
Carolina Hurricanes MARC-ANDRE BERGERON (Photo By Andy Martin Jr)

Only one month after that meeting, the new arena project in that city, which is still under construction, has begun work on remodeling. Steve Turcotte said (translated from French):

“If everything goes well, before the summer holidays, the city of Trois-Rivières and the East Coast Hockey League promoters will have signed a deal to bring a franchise to town for the 2021-22 season.”

Steve Turcotte, (from ‘Des millions pour deja remodeler le nouveau colisee,’ Le Nouvelliste, 21 June 2020)

This bodes well for the Canadiens who have been desperate in building a more extensive minor league system to accommodate the massive influx of draft picks that general manager Marc Bergevin has been adding since the beginning of their reset plan.

Shayne Gostisbehere Rumors

In his latest Flyers mailbag, Sam Carchidi was asked which Philadelphia Flyers player was most likely to be traded (from ‘Flyers mailbag: Fans ask about Carter Hart, Gritty, preparing for NHL’s tournament, and more | Sam Carchidi,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 06/10/2020). He mentioned defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere, and said he has had two-consecutive subpar seasons but still has loads of potential. He believes a second-round pick or a potential 20-goal winger could get a deal done.

Shayne Gostisbehere Philadelphia Flyers
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Why is this Canadiens related? Gostisbehere fills a specific need for the team as he is a left-handed, puck-moving defenceman who can help on the power play. Also, he has been connected to the Canadiens in the recent past

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With the Canadiens holding three second-round picks, several prospects, and the cap space to take on the 27-year-old Gostisbehere’s remaining three years at a cap hit of $4.5 million, the speculation will continue.

Karl Alzner a Buyout Candidate

Sean Lehey at NBC Sports generated a power ranking of buyout candidates, and Canadiens’ and Laval Rocket defenceman Karl Alzner topped his list. With there now being questions on what the salary cap will be moving forward due to lost revenues from the pandemic pause, the Canadiens may need to make a decision on Alzner’s contract.

Lehey does the buyout math for us, noting that a buyout would provide the Canadiens’ cap next season, a hit of $3,958,333, followed by a $1,958,333 cap hit in 2021-22, followed by two more seasons at $833,333. 

Penguins Bryan Rust Canadiens Karl Alzner
Montreal Canadiens’ Karl Alzner and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Bryan Rust (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Gene J. Puskar)

Lehey is correct, that initial cap hit is large, but it is almost identical to what the Canadiens’ had been paying Alzner to play in Laval. With approximately $16 million available in cap space under a flat $81.5 million salary cap, the Canadiens could still afford the buyout, even after re-signing restricted free agents Max Domi and Victor Mete. While Alzner has played a significant mentorship role with their young defensive prospects in Laval, it may be time to allow him to find an NHL job without being hampered by his current contract.

Youppi! Named to Mascot Hall of Fame

Youppi!, the Montreal Canadiens’ official mascot, has become the first character from a Canadian-based club to be inducted into The Mascot Hall of Fame. Youppi! had his start with the Montreal Expos back in 1979 and made the switch to the Montreal Canadiens after the Expos left town.

Youppi! was also the first mascot thrown out of a Major League Baseball game when on Aug. 23, 1989, he jumped onto the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout and then-manager Tommy Lasorda complained to the umpires. Youppi! is also one of only three mascots to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.