Canadiens Have Tough Decisions To Make For Rocket Playoff Run
The Montreal Canadiens have had the luxury of calling up some quality reinforcements in the face of injuries, making for some tough decisions ahead.
The Montreal Canadiens have gotten excellent value from their call-ups this season.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen, Anthony Richard and Alex Belzile have been impressive with the Canadiens and have contributed in a major way to their never-say-die identity over the last few months.
However, as certain players begin the final process of rehabilitation, the Canadiens’ rabid string of call-ups from Laval could ultimately cost them a playoff spot; as the Rocket will be forced to carry on without their best player.
Article 13.2 (b) of the NHL CBA stipulates that if a player has previously gone through the waiver wire unclaimed, they remain waiver exempt until they reach the 10-game mark or spend 30 cumulative days on the main roster with their NHL Club:
“The Player has not played in ten (10) or more NHL Games cumulative since Regular Waivers on him were last cleared, and more than thirty (30) days cumulative on an NHL roster have not passed since Regular Waivers on him were last cleared.”
Now, this rule only applies to waiver-eligible players; meaning Harvey-Pinard, Ylönen and Justin Barron are exempt from this ruling, but Alex Belzile, Rem Pitlick and Anthony Richard are not.
The three veteran forwards have played over ten cumulative with the Canadiens, with Richard just surpassing the 10-game mark earlier this week.
That doesn’t necessarily impact the Canadiens in a very negative way, as Pitlick and Belzile were not made available for the AHL playoffs, to begin with.
The Montreal Canadiens papered Harvey-Pinard and Ylönen right before the NHL Trade Deadline, due to their waiver-exempt status, while keeping Belzile and Pitlick on the roster, to render them eligible for the AHL Playoffs.
That will lead to some interesting decisions in the coming days.
Laval Rocket’s Outlook
Anthony Richard, the Laval Rocket’s leading scorer, was on the AHL roster as of the NHL Trade Deadline, and was just returned to the Laval Rocket
He’s eligible to return to the AHL for the playoffs, and was actually still waiver exempt, despite having played a cumulative 13 games so far this season.
According to section 13.5 (ii) of the NHL CBA, a player that is recalled on emergency recall has a 10 game-limit, which is not added to any previous regular recall.
“The player is Recalled from a minor league club on emergency Recall and plays in ten (10) NHL Games (cumulative) while on emergency Recall. For purposes of clarity, games played while on regular Recall shall not count towards the ten (10) NHL Games in this subsection (ii).”
This means that, Richard, by virtue of only having played six games while on his emergency recall, were able to return him to the AHL right away without waivers; which is great news for the Rocket.
The Rocket will already be without captain Alex Belzile and veteran Rem Pitlick, and need all the help they can get.
The Canadiens’ AHL affiliate is in a heated battle in the North Division and is one point back of a playoff spot with a game in hand.
But, with the likes of Kirby Dach and Brendan Gallagher already set to return, and Jake Evans seemingly on the mend as well, the Canadiens are in a bind.
Kent Hughes, who actively wants his youngsters to experience the rigours of the AHL playoffs this spring, may have no choice but to send one of Jesse Ylönen or Rafaël Harvey-Pinard to the AHL as veterans return to the lineup.
With the Laval Rocket hurting for forward help at the moment; getting two of their more performant players back for this end-of-season push could be the compromise that needs to be made in order to give the organization the best of both worlds.
It certainly wouldn’t be a decision based on merit, but it makes very little sense for the Canadiens to have 2/3 of the Laval Rocket’s top-six with them in the NHL if up to four players return over the next week to the NHL roster.
Could see a shocking demotion soon enough.
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