Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Dangerously Close to Habs Final Team
Brendan Gallagher has made the Montreal Canadiens. Wait, I'll let that sink in for a moment.
Ok, so maybe it's not a 100% given, but after today's cuts and waiver announcements, the Canadiens are dangerously close to finalizing the roster that will open the season. Not including the players in camp strictly due to their injured status, the following names remain on the active roster:
30- BUDAJ, Peter
31- PRICE, Carey
17- CAMPOLI, Chris D/L
61- DIAZ, Raphael D/R
75- GILL, Hal G/L
26- GORGES, Josh G/L
79- MARKOV, Andrei G/L (injured)
6- SPACEK, Jaroslav G/L
76- SUBBAN, P.K. D/R
68- WEBER, Yannick D/R
8- WOYWITKA, Jeff G/L
74- YEMELIN, Alexei G/L
45- BLUNDEN, Michael AD/RW
49- BOURNIVAL, Michael AG/LW
13- CAMMALLERI, Michael AG/LW
72- COLE, Erik AD/RW
52- DARCHE, Mathieu AG/LW
51- DESHARNAIS, David C
81- ELLER, Lars C (injured)
63- ENGQVIST, Andreas C
73- GALLAGHER, Brendan AD/RW
21- GIONTA, Brian AD/RW
11- GOMEZ, Scott C
46- KOSTITSYN, Andrei AD/RW
32- MOEN, Travis AG/LW (injured)
67- PACIORETTY, Max AG/LW
60- PALUSHAJ, Aaron AD/RW
14- PLEKANEC, Tomas C
53- WHITE, Ryan AD/RW (injured)
The final Habs team is likely to consist of 23 players, being 2 goaltenders, 13 or 14 forwards, and 7 or 8 defensemen. With 4 injured players (Andrei Markov, Lars Eller, Travis Moen, and Ryan White) in camp, that means only 2 final cuts are necessary for Montreal to lock in a squad for opening night.
These cuts are likely to be Michael Bournival and Jeff Woywitka, both of whom have had solid camps, but the former's lack of action due to injury and the latter's two-way contract mean they should be the ones out.
This means, effectively, that Brendan Gallagher should make the opening night team to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in October. So should Andreas Engqvist, Aaron Palushaj, and Mike Blunden, one of whom would sit as a healthy scratch in the 13th forward slot.
Of course, there are no guarantees. Any of Eller, Moen, or White might be ready by then, creating a need to cut another body. But it looks good for the youngsters, especially young Gallagher's chances at getting at the minimum a 9-game tryout.
On defense, based on lines in camp (see below), Raphael Diaz is the leader for a spot in the top 6, leaving Alexei Yemelin to start the year as a 7th defenseman in the press box. Hopefully being around the team will help him adjust his game to the NHL level quickly. Yannick Weber, meanwhile, appears to be in a swing role, serving as a 14th forward fill-in or an 8th d-man. A possible scenario has Weber playing on the fourth line and with second unit powerplay duties, while one of Gallagher or Palushaj is sent down.
The most recent lines including these players can be found in our updates from today's practice HERE.
It should end up looking something like this until the injured players are back:
Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Erik Cole
Max Pacioretty - Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher
Mathieu Darche - Andreas Engqvist - Yannick Weber
Hal Gill - P.K. Subban
Chris Campoli - Josh Gorges
Jaroslav Spacek - Raphael Diaz
PRESS BOX: Alexei Yemelin, Aaron Palushaj, Mike Blunden
IR: Andrei Markov, Ryan White, Travis Moen, Lars Eller
It is very possible that Palushaj is sent down rather than sitting, just as it is possible he would play wing ahead of Weber or Gallagher. But Gallagher has been the more impressive of the two, and as much as most hate the thought of playing a d-man on the wing, Weber would contribute more than Palushaj with his defensive presence and powerplay ability.