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Gary Bettman Could Help Canadiens With Roster Logjam

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Montreal Canadiens

With Josh Anderson suspended and Evgenii Dadonov about to come off IR, the Montreal Canadiens might need the commissioner’s help to avoid using waivers.

As it turns out, a suspended player still counts against the 23-man roster limit, meaning that, even though the Canadiens cannot use Anderson for the next two games, he takes up a valuable spot on the Canadiens’ roster.

Making things even more uncomfortable for general manager Kent Hughes is the status of Evgenii Dadonov, who will be eligible to return to the Canadiens’ active roster as of November 8. Unless another player conveniently finds themselves on injured reserve between now and Tuesday, the Canadiens will need to either place a veteran on waivers or assign one of their youngsters to the AHL.

If Canadiens management hasn’t found a solution via trade in the next 48 hours, the Canadiens could be tempted to delay Juraj Slafkovsky‘s 10th game and give him top billing in Laval. It would be a shame for the Canadiens to demote the youngster, who has been showing signs of progression game after game and is one of the few forwards on the team providing secondary scoring.

Sending down Slafkovsky or waiving a veteran could be the easy route, as the Canadiens would be able to subject a player to waivers on the same day that Dadonov returns from IR, the Canadiens’ reluctance to do so in the past would lead one to believe they’d seek out another solution.

This is where NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could come into play.

Gary Bettman.. really?

Yes, really.

According to article 16.12 of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player who is unable to play due to non-health-related reasons (including suspensions) could be designated as a non-roster player by the NHL commissioner, should he deem it relevant.

Here’s the article in question below:

“Upon approval of the Commissioner, a Player who is unavailable to play due to reasons other than injury, illness or disability (e.g., birth of a child, attending a funeral) will be designated a Non-Roster Player, and during such period of his designation as such he will not count against the Club’s Active Roster limit and his Club may replace such Player, provided, however, that the Non-Roster Player’s Player Salary and Bonuses and his replacement’s Player Salary and Bonuses are each included in calculating a Club’s Actual Club Salary and Averaged Club Salary, and the Players’ Share, for purposes of Article 50.”

What this means is, for the two games that Anderson is suspended, Bettman could rule that he is a non-roster player, thus allowing the Canadiens to activate Dadonov without having to send anyone through waivers or assign a youngster to Laval.

It would simply delay the inevitable, if we’re all being honest, but it would buy Hughes more time to seek out a more permanent solution at forward.

There has been a precedent for this before, as the Washington Capitals made a similar request in 2018, when Tom Wilson was suspended for 20 games. In making a plea to Gary Bettman, the commissioner ruled that Wilson was a non-roster player during his suspension, which allowed the Capitals to call up a player and avoid playing short a forward.

The player’s cap hit stays on the books during the period of the suspension, but it avoids having to force out another player in the meantime to respect the 23-man roster limit; which has been a struggle for the Canadiens.

Potential Moves For Montreal Canadiens 

There is the outside chance that general manager Kent Hughes ultimately bites the bullet and waives one of his veterans like Dadonov or Michael Pezzetta or consummates a trade with a rival club.

The easiest solution would be to send down Slafkovsky, who would burn the first year of his entry-level contract by playing another game in the NHL, but, to be fair, he’s more than earned his stay as of late.

The Canadiens certainly have options, but, in case they are close to a deal, asking the NHL commissioner for help might be a worthwhile solution to buy themselves some time.

Potential Trade Partners For Montreal Canadiens

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