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Canadiens In Tough Spot With Matheson Injury, Possible Call-Up?

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Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson

The Montreal Canadiens are in the midst of a seven-game road trip, and they’ll have to power through short-handed thanks to the NHL Roster Freeze.

As it stands right now, the Canadiens are starting their longest road trip of the year with 21 healthy players on board with the Mike Matheson injury.

That’s not so bad, until you factor in that they’re only carrying six healthy defencemen, four of which are rookies.

The Montreal Canadiens cannot use waivers, nor a trade to make a move at this time, with the NHL Roster Freeze now in effect. David Savard was put on IR earlier in the week, and the Canadiens are in the western part of the United States all week.

It’s a tough spot to be in from a roster perspective, as it doesn’t leave much wiggle room in case of injury or illness.

The only option here is a call-up, but the question is, who would the Canadiens call upon for reinforcements?

Temptation

The easy answer, especially as the Canadiens get set to face the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, is Justin Barron.

The 21-year-old was acquired from the Avalanche last season in exchange for Arturri Lehkonen and has looked like a player transformed as of late.

The 6’2, 201lbs defender has been feeling it offensive this season with the Laval Rocket, notching seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in just 25 games this season.

He’s been really strong for the Rocket in the offensive zone and has begun using his heavy shot more often as of late, which explains his goal totals, which are trending for an historic count in the AHL.

But here’s the issue.

Barron is just coming back from an injury that kept him out for two weeks and is finally starting to find his groove in Laval. It would almost be a disservice to call him up right now, with all that momentum, knowing he’s going to be sent back down in early January anyway when David Savard returns.

Despite being worthy of the call-up, this is one instance where the Canadiens would likely be better off resisting temptation and allowing Barron to continue developing at his current pace.

Catching Fire

Since being acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks this fall, Nicolas Beaudin has been on a mission.

Starting out as an extra for the Laval Rocket, the 23-year-old has quickly surpassed other Canadiens prospects like Mattias Norlinder in the depth chart and established himself as a key piece for the club.

The former 1st-round pick in 2018 has nine points in his last seven games for the Rocket and has become a key player for them on the power play. If the Laval Rocket score, one of Barron or Beaudin seems to be involved in each game, no matter the situation.

He’s quickly earned the trust of Head Coach JF Houle and could warrant a call-up to see what he can do, especially with the Canadiens having such difficulty on the power play.

It could make more sense to call up Beaudin over Barron (which is not something I ever thought I would write), as Beaudin is more of a polished player with the Quebec-native having over 20 games of experience in the NHL.

He’s further along in his development, and see what you have with him might be a more valuable option to the organization than interrupting Barron’s development.

The Predictable Outcome

The Canadiens could ultimately opt for familiarity and to leave both of their ascending defensive prospects in Laval by calling up Corey Schueneman.

Having already gone through waivers this season, Schueneman could be called up as the extra man and sent back down to Laval without needing waivers when they return to Montreal in early January.

Schueneman has the most experience in the bunch and is a player that is already familiar with Head Coach Martin St-Louis and is a guy you can have as a seventh defenceman sitting in the stands without hurting him long-term.

It’s the likely course the Canadiens could take, with Matheson staying behind in Montreal and Savard on IR, but never say never with General Manager Kent Hughes.

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Billy739

Schunneman makes the most sense.
He’d benefit as would both teams.
Leaving Beaudin-Barron together as they surge makes the most sense.

Schunneman was a solid option last year and could work great beside Harris

Dave

I would try to get subban out of retirement for one last hurrah.

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