The Montreal Canadiens have had an abnormally high number of players at training camp this year, but those numbers will drop considerably by week’s end.
With two pre-season games set against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, the Canadiens will likely have gotten a look at almost all of the 68 remaining players at training camp. By that point, sources have indicated to Montreal Hockey Now that the expectation is that the Canadiens will make their cuts either on Thursday night after the game against the Jets or Friday morning.
The reason for the haste is due to the fast-approaching date of October 2; the opening of training camp for the Laval Rocket. On top of players on AHL deals, a large number of players currently attending the main training camp are expected to be cut in time for them to mentally prepare for yet another training camp, but at the AHL level.
Players like Jan Mysak, Xavier Simoneau, Mattias Norlinder or Gianni Fairbrother are likely to find their way to Laval early on, allowing the Canadiens to get closer looks at prospects who are on the cusp of making the show like Jesse Ylönen or Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. The stage will then be set for the Canadiens to get a closer look at the fierce competition brewing between Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris and Justin Barron; as two, if not three, of these players, are likely to find themselves on the opening roster.
Meanwhile, with the CHL season now having been underway for about a week, prospects like Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney will presumably be returned to junior to allow them to get started on their season. It’s not that players like Kidney or Roy have been bad, far from it, but delaying an inevitable return doesn’t serve them or the team very much; and junior players are expected to be returned by Friday, if not latest Saturday.
The only exception to this rule may be Owen Beck, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he were also cut by the end of this week and sent home with an entry-level contract as a reward for an impressive camp. That being said, the Canadiens management team likely still wants to see just how close to the NHL their young centre really is.
Once these cuts are made, the Montreal Canadiens will have five preseason games left, and those will likely decide who will take the final roster spots on opening night on October 12 against the Maple Leafs.