There might not be many roster spots available on the Montreal Canadiens this year, but a solid performance from certain rookies could earn one of them a small cup of coffee to start the season.
The Canadiens are in the midst of their Rookie Camp, with 27 youngsters currently in Buffalo to partake in the Prospect Challenge. Although these games will be fun for fans to get a look at where some prospects are at in their development, it’ll be even more important for management as well.
There could be a temporary roster spot available to one of the players currently playing in this tournament due to the injury that still ails Christian Dvorak.
Although he has been skating with his teammates in Brossard, general manager Kent Hughes confirmed that Dvorak still hadn’t received the green light to play or take contact. That means a roster spot could be available on the main roster, should Dvorak need more time to get approval from his surgeon.
Thus, on top of youngsters Jesse Ylönen and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard possibly making the jump full-time to the NHL, another up-and-comer could earn himself a spot this fall, at least to start the season.
That’s the kind of opening that youngsters like Emil Heineman, Joshua Roy, Sean Farrell and Owen Beck could capitalize on to earn a spot on the starting roster, at least until Dvorak is deemed ready to return.
Last year, it was Owen Beck and Emil Heineman who stole the show with their relentless work ethic and impressive speed of execution, Injuries to Nick Suzuki and Jonathan Drouin allowed both youngsters to gain the necessary deployment to show what they could do.
Here’s who could potentially surprise this year:
Now one year stronger and wiser, both Beck and Heineman could be leading candidates to make the jump to start the season.
Being 21 years of age, Heineman is already one of the more mature prospects in the Canadiens system, possessing the speed, size and shooting ability that the Canadiens lack in their bottom six.
Having had such immediate success in Laval upon making the jump to North America last year, it wouldn’t be outlandish to see a player like Heineman continue to impress and force management’s hand to start the season.
One thing that could work in Owen Beck’s favour is certainly his defensive ability as a centre.
If Dvorak can’t start the season, the Montreal Canadiens will have lost their best face-off specialist and one of their shutdown centres; a role that Owen Beck could likely fill in the short-term.
Having already played one game last season for the Canadiens on an emergency basis, the 19-year-old cannot play more than nine games with the big club before burning the first year of his entry-level contract.
So, if Dvorak’s injury isn’t expected to drag on too far into the month of October, giving a youngster like Owen Beck a short cup of coffee in the NHL would be a just reward for a strong camp.
The ball is now in his corner.
Sean Farrell has the most NHL experience of the bunch and seems primed and ready to make an impact this year; his first full year in professional hockey.
The recent Harvard graduate might have a little tougher time than the two players listed above, however, simply due to his style of play.
Farrell plays a very offensive, high-tempo type of hockey that might not be suited for the Montreal Canadiens’ bottom six; but then again, if Juraj Slafkosvky can play most of the season on the fourth line, why can’t Farrell at least start there?
The club may opt to give Farrell top-line minutes with the Laval Rocket, rather than 10 or fewer minutes per game at the NHL level to help him round out his game, but, if Farrell explodes right out of the gate, you never know.
People have been sleeping on Joshua Roy for a long time, so this is nothing new for the 20-year-old, who is coming into his first pro season this year.
The Montreal Canadiens’ 5th-round pick has done nothing but impress since having his name called by the club in 2021,
Given that he’s the youngest pro player of the bunch, it’s likely that the Canadiens will not try to rush him to the NHL just yet. Unlike Beck, who would be unavailable to the Canadiens after being reassigned to Junior, Roy could always earn a call-up in the event of injuries as he improves his overall game in Laval.
Let The Games Begin
It’ll be very interesting to see how thing shake-up for the Montreal Canadiens over the next three weeks, as there is no shortage of prospects that could be pushing for that open spot.
Without discounting the potential for young veteran Lias Andersson to make a case for his spot on the roster, the Canadiens could be better off going with one of the aforementioned youngsters due to their waiver exemption; as it’s far easier to sneak a player through waivers before the start of the season then once it’s already begun.
Buckle up, folks. Hockey season approaches.
For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel