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Canadiens Have Big Decisions Looming Before Trade Freeze

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Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes

With the World Junior Championship on the horizon and Christmas just around the corner, the Montreal Canadiens are preparing for the roster freeze which traditionally enters into effect on Dec. 18, at 11:59 PM ET.

The holiday roster freeze generally lasts 10 days. Teams cannot trade or waive players, and that includes assigning players to the minors. It’s not ideal for general managers, but it’s an important date since it allows players to enjoy a stress-free holiday.

When it comes to the Canadiens, the holiday freeze will likely influence some of the decisions regarding their aging veterans and their prized rookie, Juraj Slafkovsky.

A lot of it rides on the health status of Jonathan Drouin, who was placed on the injured reserve on Nov.15.

His recovery from the upper-body injury, which took place 10 days before he was added to the injured reserve, was expected to take four to six weeks, which coincides with the holiday freeze.

The Canadiens currently have 23 players on the roster, seeing as Mike Hoffman has not been placed on IR and counts toward the roster limit.

If both Hoffman and Drouin return to the lineup, the Canadiens might be forced to decide which player they’ll waive, trade, or assign to the minors, and that decision will have to take place before the holiday freeze.

Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes has not been shy when to expressing his desire to move some of the veterans on the roster, but he has also established a clear pattern when it comes to making decisions.

Simply put, he sticks to his guns, which is generally the right approach, particularly for a club that’s amid a rebuild.

But there’s no denying there is some unrest in the Canadiens’ locker room.

Trade Talk

Generally speaking, there are always numerous scouts from various NHL teams attending games at the Bell Centre.

For the most part, they’re simply doing their everyday job.

In other words, scouts are scouting.

But once in a while, there’s enough smoke to start looking for a fire, as was the case on Nov.29, the last home game for the Canadiens until Dec.10.

When the Ottawa Senators send five members of the organization to the Bell Centre before an extended break, you can safely assume it’s not just a matter of ‘scouts scouting’.

Especially given the Senators have recently shown interest in players like Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson.

And it’s even more pertinent Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is a familiar face in Montreal.

There’s no guarantee the Senators and Canadiens are working on a trade, but if we take Occam’s razor approach, it does seem like there’s merit to the theory.

While we’re speculating wildly, it’s probably worth mentioning the Canadiens have several players they’d like to move in addition to Dvorak and Anderson, including Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman.

Not to mention Sean Monahan is reportedly among the most sought-after players on the trade market.

The holiday freeze will not necessarily force Hughes to make a trade, but it does present an opportunity for the team to finally put an end to the frustrating veteran roster carousel that has complicated St-Louis’ job as head coach.

Off To Halifax?

If both Hoffman and Drouin return at the same time, the Canadiens won’t automatically have to make a deal.

At least not immediately.

They can loan Juraj Slafkovsky to the Slovak national team for the World Junior Championship, which would temporarily solve the problem and allow him to gain some much-needed confidence. A player loaned to their national team does not count for the 23-player roster limit.

But that will only buy Hughes and Co. a little more time to make a decision rather than solving the problem outright.

For the sake of maintaining a healthy locker room, it could be argued fixing the longstanding roster logjam issue before the upcoming holiday roster freeze would be the right approach.

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habbernack

Personally I feel the team wants to keep their centers. Any team needs strong center position. I think the guys feel good about where they’re at and I think it would be demoralizing to trade Dvorak and /or Sean. Who would replace them? I could see a winger traded, Richard deserves a chance. Ylonen too and they Pitlick down there.

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