In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, the Habs kick the offseason into high gear with a significant trade, the Laval Rocket fall in the Eastern Conference Final of the Calder Cup playoffs, the Canadiens will be well-represented at the Memorial Cup beginning next week, and Logan Mailloux is in Montreal to rehab his surgically repaired shoulder.
Plus, two Montreal prospects have been invited to Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team summer camp in preparation for the 2023 World Juniors and Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso gets a VIP tour of the Bell Centre ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
Weber’s Contract Traded to Vegas
Moving Shea Weber’s contract was an offseason priority for general manager Kent Hughes to give himself some much-needed salary cap flexibility in the present and for the future as well. He accomplished his mission on Thursday night, sending the four years remaining on Weber’s deal to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Evgenii Dadonov, who has one year left on his contract with a $5 million cap hit.
The trade allows the Habs to operate without LTI next season depending on Carey Price’s status for the 2022-23 campaign. It also means that if Price needs to be placed on LTIR at some point over the next four years, the burden would be less significant. In addition, it helps with avoiding performance bonus overages, especially with more and more young players set to join the roster on entry-level contracts, including this year’s first overall pick.
As for Dadonov, he becomes a decent asset for the Habs who Hughes expects to open the season in Montreal. The four-time 20-goal scorer has the offensive creativity needed to potentially slot in next to Nick Suzuki and Caufield on the top line and he can also be a power play producer. If he finds his form, the 33-year-old can be moved at the Trade Deadline for more future assets. Overall, another tidy piece of business by Hughes who is taking a lot of calls these days.
Laval Eliminated From Calder Cup Playoffs
The Rocket saw their Cinderella postseason run end on Wednesday night in Game 7 of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final at the hands of the Springfield Thunderbirds. After staving off elimination in Game 6, Laval came out flat in the deciding contest and could never recover en route to a 4-0 loss with a shutout by former Hab Charlie Lindgren adding salt to the wound.
Among the highlights was the stellar play of Cayden Primeau throughout the playoffs as he took the next step in his development and appears on his way to becoming an NHL-capable goaltender. With many free agents to deal with this summer and young prospects set to join the team next season, it will be interesting to see which popular veterans are brought back and which will be let go. Defenseman Otto Leskinen, who played for the Rocket from 2019-2021, will be back for a second stint next year. Laval head coach Jean-François Houle hopes that his core group is kept together so that they continue building on what they started this year.
It’s also a strong possibility that several players graduate to the Canadiens in 2022-23 including the likes of Jesse Ylönen and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.
Habs Well-Represented at Memorial Cup
Three Montreal prospects will compete in the Memorial Cup beginning Monday in Saint John, New Brunswick with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Bulldogs, featuring Jan Mysak and Arber Xhekaj, won the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) title thanks to a victory over the Windsor Spitfires. Meanwhile, Kaiden Guhle and the Oil Kings beat the Seattle Thunderbirds to capture top honours in the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs.
Guhle, a pillar on defense for Edmonton, was named MVP of the WHL playoffs with eight goals and 16 points in 19 games.
Mailloux Rehabbing in Montreal
Habs prospect Logan Mailloux will be in Montreal over the next few weeks to rehab after undergoing shoulder surgery in April. As proposed by his agent, his rehab will be done at the Quartexx offices. Coincidentally, Quartexx is Hughes’ now-former agency.
Hughes mentioned yesterday that Canadiens management intends to meet with Mailloux while he is in town to get to know him more as a person and better understand the work he is doing off the ice to better himself. Mailloux will attend the team’s rookie camp later this summer to gauge how he interacts with the other prospects who are present.
Kidney and Roy Invited to Hockey Canada Summer Camp
On Thursday, Hockey Canada announced the list of players who will be participating in their National Junior Team summer camp in Calgary, Alberta from July 23-27.
A total of 44 players will take part, including Habs prospects Riley Kidney and Joshua Roy. The camp is the first step in preparation for the 2023 World Juniors which will be held in Halifax and Moncton beginning in December. The rescheduled 2022 edition of the World Juniors will be staged in August.
Fernando Alonso Gets a Hockey Lesson
Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso, who is in Montreal for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, visited the Canadiens’ facilities at the Bell Centre on Thursday, getting a tour and his own personalized Habs jersey courtesy of Josh Anderson, Cole Caufield, and Nick Suzuki. He also showed off his admittedly limited hockey skills. Earlier in the week, Michael Pezzetta spent time with Montrealer Nicholas Latifi and the Williams Racing team.
With trade chatter expected to pick up and the 2022 NHL Draft now less than three weeks away, Hughes and company are about to get really busy during what promises to be an exciting time for Habs fans.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.