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Recent Injury News To Help Canadiens Get Creative With Roster



Montreal Canadiens

The injury status of Montreal Canadiens veterans has created an opportunity for the club to get creative on the makeup of their roster prior to the start of the season.

In the last week, the Canadiens have received some unfortunate news concerning the health of veterans Joël Armia and Paul Byron; both of whom are not expected to start the season at this junction.

According to The Athletic‘s Marc-Antoine Godin, Byron’s hip is not responding as well as they initially thought and he will start the season on Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) this season. Unlike Carey Price however, there is still hope that Byron could return this season, but Godin has pointed out that there is also a possibility that Byron doesn’t play this season as well if his hip continues to give him problems.

When it comes to Armia, the severity of his injury has not yet been divulged, but it is telling that captain Nick Suzuki was listed as day-to-day and Armia was not given a timetable to return. That usually indicates that the injury could keep him out longer than previously thought, which could see him on injury reserve (not to be mistaken with LTIR).

On top of the two veteran forwards, Joel Edmundson’s status also remains up in the air, as he is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury that he suffered after colliding with Suzuki prior to training camp. The Canadiens haven’t made mention of his timetable to return as of yet, which means he will also likely start the season on injury reserve.


An Opportunity For Youngsters

With Armia and Byron likely out for the start of the season, the Canadiens are now under less pressure to make a move to trade a forward. They currently have 16 forwards signed for this season with legitimate NHL aspirations, including Juraj Slafkovsky. By cutting those numbers down by two, the Canadiens can now comfortably start the season with 14 forwards; along with seven defensemen and two goalies.

It will likely allow young Slafkovsky to start the year in Montreal, while ensuring they don’t need to submit any of their players to waivers to stay compliant with the 23-man roster limit.

On defence, David Savard, Mike Matheson and Chris Wideman are assured of roster spots, but Edmundson’s injury now opens the door for one of the Montreal Canadiens’ many defensive prospects to crack the lineup to start the season.

Kaiden Guhle has already seemingly won himself a roster spot, with Corey Schueneman, Jordan Harris and Justin Barron and Otto Leskinen pushing as well. However, it may be Arber Xhekaj who benefits the most from Edmundson’s absence, as he can compensate for the loss of Edmundson’s physical play and defensive prowess while the veteran is out with injury.

The benefit of having good, young and talented depth will be put on full display to start the season it seems, but that’s not the only benefit this turn of events could provide the Canadiens.


LTIR Flexibility For Additional Moves

Despite general manager Kent Hughes being comfortable with his current roster, he would still like to make a few tweaks if the opportunity presents itself. During a press conference in the summer, Hughes acknowledged the advantage of the waiver process to help plug some holes on the team. He noted that he would also look to the waiver wire at the start of the season to see whether the Canadiens can snatch a right-shot defenceman, for example, from one of their rivals for free.

“If we can find, and we believe that there will be, either via trade or the waiver process, right-shot D that become available to us, then we’re going to continue to study that,” said Kent Hughes in his desire to add another right-shot defenceman before the start of the season.

Of the Canadiens’ three injured veterans, Byron is the most likely to start on LTIR. If the Canadiens start the season with Paul Byron on LTIR, they’ll have an additional $3.4M cushion of relief LTIR space to play with, on top of Price’s $10.5M relief space (which is almost all used up already). That extra space would allow the Canadiens more flexibility to make moves with that newfound space, but not to utilize all of it in case Byron does indeed return.

This means that if a higher-priced right-shot defenceman becomes available via trade or waiver pickup, the Montreal Canadiens would have the necessary flexibility now to make a move without necessitating another. They could also choose to hold onto that extra space for the right deal down the road, should Byron’s health not improve, most notably at the trade deadline.

That kind of fiscal fluidity could also be retained and not spent for the time being and maximized once they get full confirmation on Byron’s status.

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