As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL instituted a roster freeze at 5 PM EST on Monday. Montreal made one roster move, assigning Jake Evans to Laval according to a report from CapFriendly.
The Habs had the ability to send one forward and one defenceman down while still being compliant with NHL roster minimums. They could get away with the forward assignment with they keeping Tomas Tatar active and not on IR.
However, the move to send Evans down is a bit curious. Service time (days on the roster) are still counting during this hiatus. Emergency recall rules state that a player called up under that status must pass through waivers if they’ve spent more than 30 days on an NHL roster since that recall.
Charles Hudon is at 18 which means he could have been sent down and then recalled if NHL play resumes and they need him back. Now, if they try to get him back to Laval if the AHL returns (which won’t be until May at the earliest), he’ll have to go through waivers.
Instead, they’ve opted to send Evans down in a move to save some money as he’ll now be paid at the two-way rate of $70,000 instead of the NHL rate of $925,000. Hudon’s on a one-way deal and actually would have made more money by being sent down as there are no escrow withholdings in the AHL.
Montreal opted to not do anything with their defence which doesn’t come as much surprise. While they could have returned Karl Alzner to Laval without needing waivers, they would have had to burn their final non-emergency recall on him assuming the AHL resumes play. If Tatar is ready to play by May or whenever the NHL resumes, they’ll need to use that recall on Evans instead. If the AHL doesn’t come back, the recall restrictions will be lifted.
Barring any college signings for next season, this will be Montreal’s last roster activity presumably until May at the earliest following the CDC’s recent recommendation to suspend any gatherings of 50 or more people for eight weeks.