THW Montreal Canadiens 2021-22 Mid-Season Fan Mailbag

Montreal Canadiens fans witnessed a magical run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, and hopes were high that they could earn a playoff spot as the NHL returned to its regular divisional alignment. Then the season began and all hopes were crushed by mounting injuries, dozens of players added to the COVID protocol list, and mediocre play. Now at the All-Star Break, the Canadiens record is a woeful 8-29-7 placing them 32nd in the league behind teams purposely selling for a rebuild and even the expansion Seattle Kraken.

So, The Hockey Writers open up its mailbag to see what is on the minds of hockey fans and see what everyone is looking towards as the second half of the season approaches.

Carey Price Return?

From @SportsfanRish via Twitter, “Is it worth bringing back Price during an abysmal season like this?”

Thank you for this question. Well, it depends on the long-term plans for Carey Price, and for him, it seems to be that he wants to play, and more importantly play in Montreal.

“It’s a big part of my identity … being a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens has been my life for over a decade, I just want to be able to get back in there and just continue playing. And to be able to put that sweater on again is something that is keeping me motivated at this point.”

-Carey Price (30 Jan 2022 Press Conference)

Price feels it’s worth it, but I understand your question is more about the team. It’s clear that Price’s injury will take most of the rest of the season to heal and rehab from, leaving very little left for him to really have a chance to participate in. So, even if he does return, he won’t have any real effect on this nightmarish season when it comes to the final standings and in turn, the draft lottery. 

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens-THW Montreal Canadiens 2021-22 Mid-Season Fan Mailbag
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That being said, his return could be a rare bright spot for the season, which on its own would be worth his return. If he can’t return due to this injury having yet another setback, this could signal general manager (GM) Kent Hughes will have a much larger decision to face, what to do with Price’s contract.

Trade Toffoli?

My THW colleague Shawn Wilkinson aka @GameDayDad asks  “What do you think the likelihood is of Tyler Toffoli being dealt at this year’s deadline? Still has term and could fetch a good return, but his importance to the team and the youth coming up could be more valuable.”

Tyler Toffoli Montreal Canadiens-THW Montreal Canadiens 2021-22 Mid-Season Fan Mailbag
Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This is a very important question that the Habs GM will face at this trade deadline. I don’t believe it is likely that Toffoli will be traded at this trade deadline. The Canadiens do need some veteran leadership and support to help their young core, as you mention. In Tyler’s case, he has shown great chemistry with 2022 NHL All-Star center Nick Suzuki, and at only 22 years of age, he has room to grow. Toffoli’s chemistry with him could help guide that growth. 

With that, the team will need to be making decisions on personnel for at least a year. This could mean Toffoli does get traded eventually. His experience in the playoffs (2014 Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings and the Cup Final with Montreal), his productivity as a 20 to 30 goal scorer, matched with his team-friendly contract of $4.25 million until 2024 makes him a very valuable trade commodity. If he were to be moved, it would be possible to see a cost of a first-round pick, a top-end prospect, and a roster player being the return Hughes receives. 

Related: Canadiens Could Benefit from Trading Toffoli

Penalized Players in a Shootout

Darcy Berger has a question I’ve heard a lot, why are players with a penalty still allowed to participate in a shootout.

Well, Darcy, that’s one I find odd as well. Personally, I’d prefer to see players with any time remaining on a penalty be ineligible to participate in the shootout. I feel it would be an added deterrent and even add another layer of game planning to a part of the game that was brought in to provide entertainment to a new, younger audience.

However, the NHL does have a rule for this, but only certain penalties would make a player ineligible. If a player still has time left on ten-minute misconduct or has been completely ejected from the game, they are ineligible to participate in the shootout. This includes a player serving a goalie’s misconduct. Per Rule 84.4:

During regular-season games, if the game remains tied at the end of the five (5) minute overtime period, the teams will proceed to a shootout. The rules governing the shootout shall be the same as those listed under Rule 24 – Penalty Shot. Eligible players from each team shall participate in the shootout and they shall proceed in such order as the Coach selects. All players are eligible to participate in the shootout unless they are serving a ten-minute misconduct or have been assessed a game misconduct or match penalty. When a goalkeeper has been assessed a misconduct, the player designated to serve the misconduct penalty becomes ineligible for the shootout. If the misconduct is assessed to the goalkeeper during the course of the shootout, the player designated to serve the misconduct must be a player who has yet to shoot and thus becomes ineligible to shoot.

NHL Rule 84.4 Shootout

I would like to see it be more universal, as in all penalties, but, this seems designed to ensure that a star player can still be used unless they made an egregious error or play. I hope this helped.

Far too much has gone wrong this season to have any hope at meaningful games the rest of the way. The best-case scenario is for the team to rally around and play with pride, to compete nightly in hopes of entertaining the fans who are still coming to terms with the historically bad season that is unfolding in front of their eyes. While Hughes hasn’t made his full plan public, what is known is that he will be very active over the next few months. So while the on-ice product may not be entertaining for some, the off-ice moves are gearing up to be entertaining.

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