The Canadiens brought their active playing roster down to the twenty-three player limit Friday morning.
Two professional rookie forwards, Canadiens first round draft pick Alexander Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher remain with the team, at least for the season’s start.
In Galchenyuk’s case, the Canadiens have given themselves five games to further evaluate his skills before either making an NHLer out of him or sending him back to the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He is likely to start the season as the right winger on the Canadiens number two line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. The last 18-year-old to to start the season with the Canadiens was Petr Svoboda in 1984.
Gallagher was a fifth round draft choice who got a long look at last year’s camp before being send back to the Vancouver Giants for his final junior year. Thursday, he was nominated to play in the American Hockey League’s All-Star game later this month in Providence.
Seven players were sent to Hamilton including forwards Louis Leblanc, Michael Bournival, Gabriel Dumont, Patrick Holland and defencemen Jarred Tinordi, Frederic St. Denis and Mike Commodore.
In reality, there are twenty four players left in Montreal. Forward Petteri Nokelainen, who continues to rehabilitate a back injury, was placed on injury reserve. For that reason, Michael Blunden remains with the team.
Following the morning roster cutdown here is the way the Canadiens forwards lined up for their final practice before the season opener
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Cole
Gionta - Plekanec – Galchenyuk
Bourque – Eller - Moen
White – Prust – Armstrong
Extra – Gallagher, Blunden
Emelin – Markov
Kaberle – Gorges
Bouillon – Diaz
Extra – Weber
There was some concern about Carey Price after he appeared to hurt himself stopping Max Pacioretty during the penalty shot competition in Thursday night’s intra squad game at the Bell Centre. In post-game interviews Price assured everyone that he would be all right for the season opener. He didn’t practice Friday morning but coach Michel Therrien said that Price would be his starting goaltender against Toronto.
Tomas Plekanec, who didn’t play in the intrasquad game because of tender ribs, practiced Friday and will be a gametime decision Saturday.
……Alexei Kovalev is back in the NHL. The Florida Panthers have signed him to a million dollar contract plus bonuses. Kovalev, who turns 40 next month, skated in training camp on the Panthers second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller. Kovalev and the Panthers will play the Canadiens Tuesday at the Bell Centre. Last season Kovalev played 22 games with Atlant Mytichtchi in the KHL
……Mikhail Grigorenko, the Quebec Remparts star forward, will be given a longer look by the Buffalo Sabres. Grigorenko, who fell out of favour among NHL scouts during last season, was finally taken in the 12th spot in the June draft. Like Galchenyuk, the Sabres have five games to make a decision on whether to keep him on the roster or send him back to the Remparts.
……Nothing new on the P.K. Subban front. The two sides are still talking which is the only positive sign. Technically, Subban can’t be called a “holdout” because he’s in hockey limbo as a restricted free agent with no contract.
……Scott Gomez cleared waivers on Friday. His agent says there’s interest from a number of clubs. It’s rumoured that Carolina is one of them. The other “celebrity” buyout, Wade Redden, has signed a one year 800 thousand dollar contract with the St. Louis Blues. Former Canadien Steve Begin has signed a minimum wage two-way contract with the Calgary Flames.