In a move that has been widely anticipated for a while now, the AHL announced on Monday that they have formally cancelled the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.
This means that Laval’s season has come to an end and we won’t be able to find out if Joel Bouchard’s crew would have been able to overcome the four-point gap between them and the final playoff spot in the North Division. The Rocket had won seven of their last 10 games before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the stoppage in the schedule which had enabled them to hang around the playoff race.
From Montreal’s perspective, the ending of the campaign means that the post-deadline four recall rule will no longer be in effect if play resumes in the regular season or if they go to an extended playoff format where the Habs may wind up getting in. This means that at the very least, they will be able to recall Jake Evans who had quietly been papered back to Laval before the NHL’s roster freeze set in.
It also means that Cayden Primeau could be brought up for the stretch run which could be notable if the NHL does return to its regular season. In that instance, the Canadiens would be well out of playoff contention and while they will likely want to give Charlie Lindgren a few games, they could toss a couple Primeau’s way as well.
Other players that could be in the mix for a spot on the ‘taxi squad’ include Laurent Dauphin who was on a bit of a role before the shutdown and perhaps Alex Belzile who should be fully recovered from his shoulder surgery by the time NHL play resumes (if it does at all). Jesperi Kotkaniemi has not been cleared for contact from his splenic injury so he won’t get a recall unless the resumption of the schedule is a long way from now. On the back end, Cale Fleury, Gustav Olofsson, and Otto Leskinen figure to be likely to be recalled after spending time with the Habs earlier in the season.
After playing their post-deadline games with basically a skeleton crew, Montreal will at least now have some extra bodies on their roster if NHL play gets back underway in the coming weeks and months.