Montreal Canadiens Head Coach Martin St-Louis worked around a less-than-ideal situation with his forwards, but his focus now shifts to the back end.
Upon their return, the Canadiens were forced to waive Rem Pitlick and ultimately lost Jonathan Drouin to injury, reducing their number of forwards to a healthy 13.
The only problem is that the Canadiens seemingly just shifted their roster headache from offence to defence, as they currently have eight defencemen to deal with at the moment.
It’s a difficult situation, as every game St-Louis is now being forced to rotate two defencemen out of the lineup, when youngsters like Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj haven’t done anything to warrant watching the game from the rafters.
Similar to Juraj Slafkovsky‘s situation, General Manager Kent Hughes has had a “wait and see” approach as it pertains to the development of his youngsters and doesn’t seem interested in sending any of his rookies to the Laval Rocket for more playing time just yet.
It creates a headache for the Montreal Canadiens bench boss, as you would be very hard-pressed to argue the Canadiens aren’t a better team with both Harris and Xhekaj in the lineup.
Yet, on the flip side, Jonathan Kovacevic has been nothing short of stellar with the role he’s been given since being snatched up off waivers.
With the NHL Roster Freeze just a couple of weeks away, Hughes will have to make a decision on what to do with his roster, especially with the impending return to health of Drouin around the holiday period.
Until then, St-Louis is playing the hand he’s been dealt.
Abundance Of Defence, But Thin In Goal
Samuel Montembeault has been stellar in his starts for the Canadiens this year, and Jake Allen’s very difficult month of November has forced coach St-Louis to increase Montembeault’s usage in consequence.
St-Louis has confirmed that Allen remains the team’s No. 1 goalie, but it’s getting harder and harder to argue in favour of that as time goes on.
The Canadiens’ goaltenders were a big reason behind the club’s hot start in October, but hasn’t been up to par as of late.
Oh, and, on top of that, the Montreal Canadiens only have two healthy in the entire organization as we speak.
You read that right.
Allen and Montembeault are the only two goalies currently available to the Canadiens as we speak.
Cayden Primeau was cut on the face while sitting on the bench this past weekend and has missed the last two games since then.
That means that, if anything happens to the Canadiens’ two netminders, Hughes would likely have to make a move or offer an NHL contract to Laval Rocket backup Kevin Poulin or Trois-Rivières Lions starter Joe Vrbetic, in order to be called up to help out.
We do not yet know the extent of Primeau’s injury, but it certainly won’t help St-Louis, who’s also got a potential goalie controversy on his hands if Allen doesn’t find his game soon.
Hughes and St-Louis may have inherited some solid young pieces from the past administration, but the amount of long-term contracts given to veterans has certainly hampered their ability to maintain roster flexibility, both on the team and within the organization as a whole.