Lost in the discussion about Laval as they head into their second season is just how many players won’t be back; the roster turnover is quite staggering. Here is a look at who won’t be back in a Rocket uniform next season.
For someone that led the league in scoring last season, Chris Terry’s departure really hasn’t got the attention it deserves. There isn’t a whole lot of stability at the minor league level but he provided it on a near-nightly basis. Losing that is going to hurt, even though they added Kenny Agostino to take that spot.
Adam Cracknell was a pleasant surprise after being acquired midseason for Peter Holland. For someone who didn’t play centre particularly well and wasn’t much of a point producer, he played quite well anchoring Laval’s top line. The Rocket will still be seeing plenty of him as he joined rival Toronto.
Unlike the previous two, Nikita Scherbak is still in the organization but he also won’t be back. It’s highly unlikely that the Habs will risk running him through waivers. Instead, he’ll be pressing for a full-time spot with the big club. Despite playing in only 26 games last year, he still finished fifth in team scoring.
Eric Gelinas was Laval’s top scoring threat from the back end last season, scoring 13 times in 64 games. The team has added other players to take his spot but none of them possess the offensive upside he does. (On the flip side, they’re all defensive upgrades so the lesser expected production is at least balanced out somewhat.)
Jeremy Gregoire (Milwaukee) and Markus Eisenschmid (Mannheim) were regulars on entry-level deals last season that won’t be back. Jordan Boucher and Niki Petti, regulars on minor league deals last year, have both signed in Sweden and won’t be back. Add it all up and that’s a lot of offensive turnover.
As for other defencemen, the injury to Shea Weber means that Noah Juulsen likely starts with the big club. It also may create an opening for Brett Lernout to stick around as well which means the longest-tenured defender’s return is in question as well. Rinat Valiev is among the aforementioned six players still in the organization but he requires waivers for the first time and won’t be a guarantee to return. Tom Parisi was a regular last year but was non-tendered back in June. Matt Taormina is a safe bet to clear waivers but there’s at least a small chance that he may be the only defensive regular from last year in the opening night lineup.
And that’s just the (somewhat) notable players. Zach Fucale was also non-tendered and instead will battle for playing time in the Golden Knights’ system. Stefan LeBlanc (Toronto) and Yannick Veilleux (Rochester) have inked minor league deals elsewhere as well while David Broll who was with the team for the last two years remains unsigned as does Thomas Ebbing.
Between their NHL and AHL deals, Montreal has done a decent job of bringing in newcomers throughout the course of the summer and there is some cause for optimism for 2018-19. But with all the turnover, fans in Laval will be seeing almost an entirely new team next season, especially when it comes to their attack.