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Montreal Canadiens

Slafkovsky, Harris & Xhekaj Make Canadiens, Looking To Stick



Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens announced that four rookies had cracked the roster to start the season, but they’re not out of the woods just yet.

The club announced their final wave of cuts during this training camp, sending five players, which includes Justin Barron, to the Laval Rocket. For the first time in years, the Canadiens will be starting the season with four rookies on their roster; that being Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris and Juraj Slafkovsky.

Outside of Guhle, who was by far the best of the Canadiens’ prospects during the preseason, the other three still have work to do in order to ensure they can stick on the roster full-time; especially when injured veterans return.

Injuries to Vets

The Canadiens announced that Joel Edmundson, Paul Byron and Joël Armia would not be ready to start the season with the Montreal Canadiens due to upper-body injuries.

Armia is expected to miss one or two weeks with his injury, while Edmundson doesn’t yet have a timetable, but has started skating again. Things seem a little darker for Byron, who doesn’t yet have a timetable for when he’s going to get back to on-ice training due to lingering issues in his hip.

Kids Have Something To Prove

As of right now, they’re part of the 23-man roster count, but when the injured players return, some moves might need to be made.

For Slafkovsky, it will be important that he take the next week or two, depending on how long Armia is out for, to show that he is ready to take on the full calendar of an NHL season and that general manager Kent Hughes will need to find a more creative way to fix his forward logjam. The Canadiens currently have 14 healthy forwards, but a returning Armia will put them at 15, which is simply too high a number.

Slafkovsky’s performances have continued to improve throughout the preseason, and the hope is that he will continue to show improvement in his game as the season gets started.

As for Xhekaj and Harris, you could argue that one of them is currently keeping Edmundson’s seat warm for the time being. With the Canadiens’ claiming defenceman Jonathan Kovacevic on waivers on Saturday, there would only be one roster spot left once the Canadiens’ assistant captain returns somewhere down the line; giving them a lot of runway to prove they should stick long-term.

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