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Top-3 Players Claimed On Waivers By The Montreal Canadiens



Montreal Canadiens defenceman Johnathan Kovacevic

Montreal Canadiens fans are well aware you can’t expect to find a franchise player on waivers.

But if NHL teams are lucky they can end up finding a hidden gem for free on the waiver wire, and in the Canadiens’ case, there has been a handful of very helpful players that have joined the team for free via waivers.

Players like Steve Begin and Glen Metropolit filled a role for the Habs after they were claimed off waivers, but their overall impact was far from what we’ve seen from recent waiver-wire claims.

Two of the best waiver claims in team history played a big part in the whirlwind that was the 2022-23 season, starting with defenceman Johnathan Kovacevic, one of the most reliable defencemen on the team last season.

Kovacevic, 26, formed an excellent pairing with Jordan Harris, with the two producing the best numbers of any pairing throughout the year.

Together, Kovacevic and Harris controlled over 50 percent of the shots (50.2 CF%) and the expected goals (50.3 xGF%), which may not seem impressive at first, but when you consider the results from other pairings, which were much closer to 40 percent than 50 percent, you quickly conclude that it was the most reliable and most effective pairing iced by Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis.

Kovacevic also looked great in the limited time he spent alongside Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj, securing his rank as the team’s best right-handed defenceman last season.

It’s also worth noting the former Winnipeg Jets defenceman led all defencemen in shot share (CF%) as well as high-danger shot share (HDCF%).

MUST READ: Montreal Canadiens Defenceman Kovacevic Should Not Be Taken For Granted

No one expected Samuel Montembeault to emerge as a potential starter in the NHL, especially following his first season with the Canadiens.

Montembeault, who was claimed on waivers from the Florida Panthers in 2021, was fresh off a rather underwhelming season in which he had a 3.77 goals-against average as well as a .891 save percentage.

Fast forward a season, and Montembeault ranks among the best goaltenders in the league in goals-saved above average, not to mention he also ended the year with a .901 saver percentage, a significant improvement upon his previous year’s numbers.

The jury is still out regarding Montembeault’s potential as a bonafide starter, but the mere fact that the Canadiens received a full year of solid goaltending means Montembeault easily ranks among the best waiver claims in team history.

While it’s easy to argue both Kovacevic and Montembeault made a greater impact in their one year with the team than players like Begin and Metropolit, they’ll need to put together several strong years if they’re to dethrone the best waiver pickup in franchise history: Paul Byron.

Not only did he enjoy two 20-goal seasons after the Habs claimed him off waivers from the Calgary Flames, but he also went on to score one of the most epic goals in recent Canadiens playoff history against the team’s historic rivals.

A knee-to-knee, shorthanded, game-winning goal in the playoffs versus the Toronto Maple Leafs? It doesn’t get much better than that for a player that was unceremoniously rejected by the Flames.

Paul Byron may be unofficially retired, but his impact on the Montreal Canadiens will never be forgotten.

All statistics are via NaturalStatTrick