Montreal Canadiens gamers have been collectively for shut to a few weeks after the Habs coaching camp started on January third.
The Habs have been lucky to not should cope with any accidents to this point within the season, so their roster has remained intact and static because the opening night time of the season.
They elected to hold a 21-man roster and a 5 individual taxi squad on sport days, with one participant taken off the roster and positioned on the taxi squad on off days.
This has allowed the Habs to maximise their cap area. They’re allowed to have six gamers on the taxi squad at any time and these gamers are eligible to apply and journey with the Canadiens, however their cap hit is identical as in the event that they had been within the minor leagues. So, primarily they can carry six additional gamers on the NHL roster with out it affecting their cap. Gamers should be activated to the precise NHL roster to play video games.
The taxi squad has had 5 constant members all season. They’re goaltender Charlie Lindgren, defencemen Cale Fleury and forwards Corey Perry, Michael Frolik and Ryan Poehling.
This has been effective as these gamers have skated with the crew and are prepared to leap into the lineup if mandatory. Nevertheless, the 2 younger gamers, Fleury and Poehling, might use some sport motion.
With the Laval Rocket coaching camp opening up right now, it was notable that neither of those two younger gamers had been on the roster. It seems they’ll keep on the taxi squad for now as a substitute. That’s effective for AHL coaching camp, however when the AHL common season begins on February fifth, it will be way more helpful to have a few prime prospects enjoying precise video games within the AHL as a substitute of practising with NHL gamers.
So, let’s say Fleury and Poehling be a part of the Laval Rocket for opening night time, who’re the best candidates for the taxi squad?
It’s harder that it appears. To begin with, you don’t need younger gamers on the taxi squad and practising after they might be enjoying video games and creating within the AHL. Additionally, you don’t need veteran gamers sitting on the taxi squad and never enjoying video games for too lengthy both.
So long as everybody stays wholesome, the veterans who already handed by means of waivers would be the ones on the taxi squad. That’s unhealthy information for Perry, Frolik, and Lindgren. It’s simply too simple to go away them there till they’re wanted.
However who else might be candidates as soon as the AHL season begins?
The Habs would want a minimum of one defenceman. Fleury is the one defender on the squad now. If he’s despatched down, the Habs will want somebody. It wouldn’t make sense to have a younger participant like Josh Brook who is much better served by enjoying video games within the AHL. They may go together with Xavier Ouellet, however he’s the captain of the Laval Rocket, shouldn’t he keep down there to mentor the younger blue liners?
That leaves the Habs to decide on between Otto Leskinen and Gustav Olofsson. Leskinen is a 23 yr previous who was strong in his first season in North America a yr in the past. Olofsson is 26 and had a pleasant bounce again yr final season after lacking virtually the entire 2018-19 marketing campaign with harm.
Leskinen has extra potential to grow to be a daily NHL participant so he’ll seemingly get extra sport motion with Laval whereas Olofsson would make extra sense for use as a taxi squad member.
Up entrance, I might additionally count on anybody underneath the age of 25 to simply play often with Laval and never be caught on a taxi squad. Alex Belzile is one participant who might be added to it based mostly on age and having a bit NHL expertise. He’s a proper winger who’s 29 years previous and goes to be a UFA after this season. If somebody has to apply with the NHL crew and never play many video games, it might very nicely be him.
If the Habs need somebody who’s extra able to enjoying centre, they might name Joseph Blandisi as much as the taxi squad. He’s 26 and might be a RFA after the season.
If I had been to wager a guess, I might say Perry, Frolik and Lindgren spend lots of time on the taxi squad and are joined by Olofsson and Belzile to start the season. Simply so AHL eligible gamers don’t spend an excessive amount of time with no sport, I’d count on to see Olofsson despatched down and Leskinen known as up once in a while simply to maintain Olofsson from getting too rusty.
In fact, accidents will complicate this tremendously and alter it up. Additionally, if the Laval Rocket solely play a 28 sport schedule, which has been rumoured, Poehling and Fleury might keep on the NHL taxi squad for many of the season and apply with NHLers and play video games within the AHL.
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It is going to be fascinating to see the Rocket schedule when it’s launched at 12:00 PM EST right now. The much less video games the Rocket play, the better it will likely be to handle the Canadiens taxi squad.