On Tuesday, the Habs learned that they were losing a prospect to the Swedish
Hockey League while another SHL’er announced his intention to play in North
America next season. Jacob de la Rose announced that he will play in
Hamilton if he doesn’t crack the Canadiens out of training camp while Joonas Nattinen is leaving the Bulldogs to play for Modo next year.
The subject of where de la Rose will play has been up for discussion since
the moment the Habs drafted him last June. It was reported at that time
that he wanted to go to the OHL to play for Windsor, who holds his junior
rights. However, he had a year left on his contract with Leksand and the
club didn’t let him out of it. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though
as de la Rose played a regular shift (often on the third line) and didn’t look
out of place.
Although he is just 19, the 6’2 forward is eligible to play for the Bulldogs
next year since he wasn’t drafted out of the CHL. He could also
potentially play at the junior level again as the Spitfires still hold his
rights for the moment. However, they may release de la Rose back into the
CHL Import Draft in order to draft another international prospect with a better
chance of reporting.
Nattinen’s decision to leave the Bulldogs should come as no surprise, there
were reports that he was looking to play in Sweden as far back as last October.
He frequently found himself on the fourth line in Hamilton and seldom moved up
even when he played well. He had just 15 points in 69 games with the
Bulldogs in 2013-14. His contract with Modo is just for one season.
The early announcement likely increases the odds of the Canadiens tendering
Nattinen a qualifying offer later this month. They already know it will be
rejected (since he already is signed in Sweden) but it will allow them to retain
his rights. The team has plenty of room on their 90-player reserve list to
hold onto him. A similar situation to this occurred a couple of years ago
with Andreas Engqvist. He signed shortly after the season ended with
Hamilton and the Habs have retained his rights as an RFA since then.
The Habs have just seven remaining restricted free agents this offseason:
Robbie Czarnik, Peter Delmas, Lars Eller, Louis Leblanc, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, and Ryan White.