In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors, we’ll break down recent trade rumours, roster updates, Carey Price’s return to training, Ryan Poehling’s improved play and much more.
Kravtsov on the Move?
Vitali Kravtsov, the New York Rangers’ ninth-overall pick from the 2018 NHL Draft, entered this season demanding a trade after he was assigned to the American Hockey League (AHL). It’s difficult to imagine that teams won’t want to add a gritty 6-foot-2, 190-pound winger who has elite offensive skills. The Rangers are demanding a high price that includes a top prospect in return.
There’s been talk that the Canadiens are interested in the talented young winger. It makes sense. The Habs need size and skill, and adding a possible game-breaking talent would be a major coup for general manager Marc Bergevin. However, the cost could include Cole Caufield. Trading one scoring winger for another won’t move the needle, so unless Bergevin can find a different offer that’s palatable to the Rangers, this deal is likely already dead in the water.
Samuel Girard on the Block
The Colorado Avalanche were in the mix to acquire Jack Eichel before he was sent to the Vegas Golden Knights. The deal would have included 23-year-old defenseman Samuel Girard, according to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post. Part of the reason Girard was considered expendable is the emergence of Bowen Byram.
“Girard, 23, is also a special player, a puck-possession/moving gem of a skater. He’s off to a slow start (two assists and minus-6 in seven games entering Saturday) but usually does things most defensemen can’t do. Byram, however, does it better, already, and the Avs had the opportunity to ship Girard plus (fill in the blank) to Buffalo for Eichel — if only the Sabres would have agreed to retain some of Eichel’s $10 million cap.”
-Mike Chambers (Mike Chambers, Chambers: Bo Byram made Sam Girard expendable for the Avs. It’s probably why they sought Jack Eichel, Denver Post, 6 Nov 2021)
If Girard is available, the Canadiens should consider making an offer. The Avs want to add to a Stanley Cup-contending roster with established talent, not futures, and the Habs can provide some help on the wing. These teams could help each other; Colorado could add scoring on the wings, and the Canadiens would add a puck-moving defenceman, which they desperately need.
Carey Price Statement
Carey Price recently returned to the Canadiens practice facility after spending a month in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. Price met with the team’s athletic trainers to come up with a plan to get back into shape following knee surgery on July 22, shortly after he led Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final.
Price shared his reason for entering the program.
The support from his fans and from around the league has been encouraging.
Stating that he used substances to cope with his mental health issues was a big step for Price. There was no need to provide the public with that information; however, in doing so, he will help to remove the stigma against mental health issues and raise awareness that asking for help is a sign of strength. Price deserves as much privacy as we can offer him and his family at this time. There is no timeline for his return, so for now, we can simply support him in his recovery and return.
Allen and Hoffman Join the Canadiens’ Infirmary
Jake Allen is now listed as day-to-day after a serious collision with Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin on Saturday night. Mike Hoffman was also unable to dress versus the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
Adding them to the list of walking wounded makes 11 Canadiens players out with injury and unavailable to head coach Dominique Ducharme. For a team fighting to get back on track, this many injuries may make qualifying for a playoff position impossible. Without Price and now Allen, the starting role has fallen to waiver wire pickup Samuel Montembeault.
Poehling Finding His Way
Ryan Poehling was recalled to the Canadiens this week after a strong start with the Laval Rocket in the AHL. When asked what changed, he stated:
“I think I just got back to my game and played well. My pre-season (with the Canadiens) didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to and I thought I deserved it (being sent down). I had a good talk with (Bergevin) and the coaching staff, and I think I went down there (Laval) and did exactly what they asked and that’s why I got the call back up.”
-Ryan Poehling (Stu Cowen, ‘Got back to my game’ in Laval, Poehling says of call up to Canadiens, Montreal Gazette, 11 Nov 2021)
Poehling seems to have understood his assignment, and he has played a more mature and effective game since his callup. He scored a goal on the road versus the Red Wings, but more importantly, he has stepped into a bottom-six center role effectively. He has performed well in the faceoff circle, winning 66.7% of his draws in his first three games, and his possession metrics are also strong, with a Corsi For (CF) percentage of 64.15 and an expected goals rate of 58.6%. While he is playing sheltered minutes, his possession stats match up with the eye test. He has found confidence in his game, and management and Canadiens fans should be happy with the team’s 2017 first-round selection if he continues to play at this level.
Keep an eye on our THW Podcast Network for the latest Canadiens News & Rumours as the season continues.
Blain is a regular contributor as a THW Writer. For over 7 years he has been a part time journalist and podcaster covering the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens and its affiliates. He has made appearances on various television and radio stations as well as podcasts to discuss the Canadiens, and the NHL. Blain has taken the lessons on integrity, ethics, values and honesty that he has learned as a 28 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and applied them to his work as a journalist to guide him in informing his readers and his goal of being a trusted source of information and entertainment.