The Habs have quite a few players contending for the final few forward spots on the roster and they’ve added to that group, inviting veteran winger Joel Ward to training camp.
The 37-year-old struggled considerably last season and collected just a dozen points in 52 games with the Sharks while spending a lot of time as a healthy scratch. However, he is just two years removed from a 21-goal season and clearly, the team is hoping he still has some offensive touch left in him. In his career, Ward has played in 726 NHL games, scoring 133 goals and 171 assists.
On the surface, it’s hard to see where he would fit in but there are a couple of possibilities. He’s a right-shot winger on a team that really doesn’t have many of them (Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia, and Andrew Shaw are the only projected regulars that shoot right) and he can also help on the penalty kill having averaged over a minute per game in SH TOI in each of the last three seasons with San Jose. With Max Pacioretty gone from the penalty kill, they will need someone to step in.
Realistically, the only spot that Ward would make sense is on the fourth line but he will have plenty of competition for those spots. There are quite a few roster spot battles on the horizon for camp which should certainly make the preseason games a little more interesting.
His addition brings Montreal’s roster size to 67 at camp. Eight players are listed as injured:
Defencemen: Matt Taormina, Jarret Tyszka, Scott Walford, and Shea Weber
Forwards: Jake Evans, Michael Pezzetta, Andrew Shaw, and Hayden Verbeek