MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens announced their latest round of cuts, reducing the training camp roster by 7 players, leaving 38 players fighting for the 23 remaining jobs.
Filip Mesar and Mattias Norlinder, both of whom own an NHL contract, were assigned to the Laval Rocket. The Rocket opened their training camp on Oct.2.
AHL standouts Alex Belzile, Anthony Richard and Mitchell Stephens were placed on waivers. If they clear waivers, they will also be assigned to the Rocket. All three players also own NHL contracts.
Goaltender Kevin Poulin and super pest Xavier Simoneau were released from training camp. The pair are already under contract with the Rocket, and therefore will join the training camp that is currently underway.
Mesar’s assignment to Laval is a very interesting development, which should, in turn, help with his, well…development. He’s shown flashes of brilliance throughout camp, separating himself from the crowd due to his excellent playmaking, his fantastic skating and his elite hand-eye coordination.
It remains to be seen whether he’ll eventually be loaned to another team, possibly the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, but the assignment does connote the Montreal Canadiens are testing his mettle in the AHL before proceeding to their final decision.
Mattias Norlinder, on the other hand, seemed destined to land in Laval this season. He disappointed at camp, failing to keep up with the younger defensive prospects vying for one of the openings on the blue line.
He’s only 22 years old, therefore he still has time to climb the organizational prospect rankings, but time is starting to run out.
With just three preseason games left on the docket and 15 players left to trim from the roster, time is also running out on the remaining prospects at camp. They’ll have to take advantage of every single opportunity given if they hope to convince Montreal Canadiens management they’re ready to take the next big step in their hockey careers.