With training camp set to start this week, one of the players who will be in the spotlight is Jarred Tinordi. He no longer has waiver exemption resulting in some questions surrounding the 23 year old defenceman.
The main question here is a three-parter: Will he earn a spot on the team? If not, will they make room for him on the roster? If not, will they waive him or trade him? Actually, there’s a fourth question even, if he struggles and they don’t make a spot for Tinordi, will there even be much of a trade market?
Heading into camp, it would be tough to place Tinordi any higher than eighth on the depth chart, fourth on the left side. A case could be made to put him behind free agent acquisition and fellow left-shooting defender Mark Barberio as well. Suffice it to say, he’s probably on the outside looking in to start.
Fortunately for Tinordi fans, he should get a long look in camp. Andrei Markov won’t play much while Nathan Beaulieu, another youngster, is now established as an NHL regular; he shouldn’t need as many games as he played last year. There also aren’t a lot of left shooting young blueliners that need a look. Mac Bennett and Joel Hanley are the top options and while both of them could get a game or two, neither will be in camp for very long. Accordingly, Tinordi is going to get a real chance.
In past seasons, the Canadiens have carried eight defencemen on the roster but have had a real preference to only carry seven. There are a lot of forwards vying for the final spot or two up front. It’s certainly possible that the club will want no more than seven blueliners in order to carry a fourteenth forward. If that happens, Tinordi’s potential roster spot would be in real jeopardy.
Could they trade a defender to make room for him? Certainly, although the options aren’t as realistic as you might think. Alexei Emelin has a big contract and a full NTC. I don’t suspect he’d be willing to waive it nor do I believe the team has any real inclinations towards moving him unless Tinordi really blows everyone away at camp. Tom Gilbert could move but there are other bottom pairing defenders available for cheap in free agency. And how comfortable would the team be playing Greg Pateryn as an everyday defenceman?
They could also trade a forward with the roster spot going to Tinordi but doing so could merely open a spot for another forward as well so it’s not worth getting into the discussion of which forwards could be dealt.
Let’s assume for a moment that Tinordi doesn’t make the team. Then what? They could waive him but it’s highly unlikely he clears. There’s the trade route but what type of value are the Habs going to get for an underachieving youngster that isn’t making the team and isn’t getting through waivers?
Earlier this month, Arizona dealt Brandon Gormley, a defenceman from the same draft class in Tinordi who has yet to establish himself and was expected to be in the same situation in terms of a roster crunch. What did they get in return? An older and similarly underachieving defenceman who has cleared waivers before (and somehow seems to be in a contract squabble) in Stefan Elliott. In other words, not very much.
In 2011, Montreal traded Mathieu Carle, who was in a similar situation as Tinordi now, to Anaheim for Mark Mitera, a bust of a prospect who had one year remaining of waiver exemption. (Mitera has since retired, for anyone wondering.) Kyle Chipchura, a former Montreal first rounder, was given an end of the roster spot to avoid waivers in 2009. After doing nothing in 19 games, he was flipped to the Ducks for a fourth rounder.
Where am I going with this? Tinordi’s trade value if he doesn’t crack the 23-man opening roster likely falls into one of those three categories, a swap of prospects that need waivers, getting a lesser prospect who has short-term waiver exemption left, or a mid-round pick. None of those certainly seem ideal and given that his value would be in that range, he would have no real value as an add-in in a larger trade either.
Obviously, the ideal scenario is that Tinordi comes to camp and plays so well that they’re forced to find a way to keep him around by either carrying eight blueliners or trading somebody to make room. I’m not overly optimistic about Tinordi making any sort of huge positive impression at camp though. He has had some good moments and a lot of bad ones in his NHL stints and his time in the AHL last year doesn’t give me confidence that he’s about to break out.
There are quite a few potential storylines and questions coming into Montreal’s training camp and exhibition season. The case of Jarred Tinordi is potentially the biggest one though. Currently there are so many questions and so few answers. Even when it’s all resolved, there may still be one question at the forefront…’What if’?