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Top-3 Canadiens In Danger Of Waivers With Matheson Return

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Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson

Mike Matheson’s imminent return will force the Montreal Canadiens to trim their roster down, and here are the likeliest waiver candidates.

Matheson was seen practicing with his teammates this weekend, a sign that his return is imminent. With the Canadiens already at 23 men on the roster, they’ll have to subtract another body to be compliant once Matheson returns.

Similarly to when Joel Edmundson returned, not only will Matheson shake up the roster, but also will shift the defensive pairings around.

But who will the Montreal Canadiens send down?

Why not send down a youngster?

As it stands right now, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris are virtual locks to stay on the club moving forward, as they’ve been two of the three most used players on the team. Both have played important minutes and have shown incredible growth during their short time with the Montreal Canadiens this season.

Given the persistent weakness at right defence, it would be unwise to place Jonathan Kovacevic back on waivers, as he would certainly be claimed given his position and excellent play with the Canadiens.

That leaves us with Arber Xhekaj. The former Costco employee has also had his moments of dominance this year, and in more ways than one. The towering defender has punished his opposition with bone-crushing hits and some devastating punches, but has had more trouble of late keeping up with coverage in the defensive zone.

If one of these three had to be demoted at this very moment, it would be hard to argue against Xhekaj, even though he’s become a fan favourite in a very short time.

It would be the easiest solution, one that doesn’t jeopardize the Canadiens’ defensive depth down the line and gives Xhekaj the opportunity to play 23+ minutes a night in Laval in all situations. He would then be the first logical call-up in case of injury.

But will Hughes take the easy way out? There’s reason to doubt it.

End of the Flow?

Micheal Pezzetta is consistently the least-used player on the team at forward under Martin St-Louis and hasn’t really stood out since the start of training camp and early on this season when given any kind of ice time.

That being said, he provides toughness and respect when he is on the ice, as Pezzetta has established a reputation in the league as being a pretty tough customer.

His league-minimum salary of $750,000 for this season would make him an easy gamble for an underperforming team to scoop up, thus making him the riskiest of all players to waive.

It would be surprising for the Montreal Canadiens to take this route, given that they like Pezzetta and would like to keep him to protect the team’s younger and more skilled players.

Dadonov on low

The case of Evgenii Dadonov has already been quite the case study for the Montreal Canadiens.

He’s played adequately well, and the underlying numbers show that he’s simply been unlucky as of late, but, unfortunately for Dadonov, there is a large glut of top-9 tweeners forwards in the lineup right now and he could be the strategic choice as the odd-man out.

Dadonov’s $5M contract is set to expire at the end of this year, but there are only a handful of teams that could take on that kind of salary without having to make another move to accommodate Dadonov within their salary structure.

Given his lack of offensive production, teams won’t want to sacrifice cap space like that on a gamble, which could play to the Canadiens’ advantage.

By waiving Dadonov, the Canadiens gain a coveted roster spot, $1.125M in cap space and could keep Dadonov around the team for 30 days before deciding to assign him to Laval or recall him in case of injury.

The only issue is, by waiving Dadonov, Hughes would be removing any hope he may have had at driving up Dadonov’s trade value. If Hughes has come to peace with the idea that Dadonov cannot be flipped now or at the trade deadline for anything of value, then waiving Dadonov makes a ton of sense.

But, if there’s still hope, there is another way.

Strategic move for Chris Wideman

Veteran Chris Wideman has had a less-than-ideal start to the season.

With Matheson likely to take Wideman’s spot on the first power play unit upon his return and Guhle playing an important role on the second wave, Wideman’s use to the team begins to shrink considerably.

He is currently the least-used defenceman to have started the season for the Canadiens on has already been scratched by head coach Martin St-Louis at least once this season.

If there was a veteran at risk of being waived on the backend, it is most certainly Wideman.

Like Rem Pitlick, who was waived last week, Wideman has another year on his contract worth $750,000 per year, which might scare off some teams who don’t want to commit the extra year to a 32-year-old.

If he were to clear, his cap hit would come off the books for the Montreal Canadiens and they would be able to roll a 23-man roster with the preferred amount of seven defencemen.

 

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Pierre B.

If Martin Saint-Louis decides to play Edmundson-Matheson, Guhle-Savard, Harris-Kovacevic, then it only makes sense to send Xhekaj in the AHL so he can play more minutes. Being an healthy scratch might hinder his development.

dino

hi marco,
what about our buddy “jo-jo drouin”
if anyone has been underperforming and not really merritting a spot on the 23???he has yet to prove the scouting report wrong,,,.he is soft.periphery player.very weak on the back-check and defensively.loses many 1-1 battles for the puck.
malgres tous ca,il reste toujours avec le club a cause de sa geniologie,,,il soit quebecois!
merci pour l’ecoute
portez-vous bien
familleCH,toujours

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