Not long after the Habs signed Joel Teasdale back in 2018, the winger started to look like an intriguing prospect. However, with two significant knee injuries since then, should they be tendering him a qualifying offer this summer?
One of those knee injuries ended his 2020-21 season and subsequently cut off the start of this season as he only made his 2021-22 debut in late January. Not surprisingly, he got off to a slow start but down the stretch, he was one of Laval’s best forwards. It’s not as if he was racking up on the points on the top line either; Teasdale was often on their checking line, one that simply made noise at both ends of the ice. Considering he had no training camp, that was quite a jump in three months and certainly provided cause for optimism heading into the playoffs.
With the style of play being a little slower and more physical, that should have worked well for Teasdale, a slower and physical player. But instead, the opposite happened. The offensive production dried up completely and he was basically relegated to the fourth line. I don’t think it’d be fair to say he played badly but it’s definitely safe to say that he was one of Laval’s more underwhelming playoff performers. There’s a bit of bad luck in terms of his shooting percentage but that alone doesn’t account for his struggles. At a time when he should have been an impact player, Teasdale was a depth piece.
Reg. Season: 44 GP, 15 goals, 13 assists, 28 points, -1 rating, 17 PIMS, 90 shots
Playoffs: 15 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, -6 rating, 18 PIMS, 26 shots
Argument To Qualify
For someone that has completed his three-year, entry-level contract, Teasdale has played all of 70 regular season games. That’s less than one full season worth of games at the AHL level. It’s not a stretch to say that at the age of 23 and with that little playing time under his belt, there is still some room for improvement. The Habs don’t have a lot of wingers with size in the system and while Teasdale’s ceiling isn’t the highest – probably a fourth liner – a physical fourth-line player that can chip in a bit offensively and play well in his own end does provide some value.
It’s also worth noting that Teasdale is still waiver-exempt. Because he missed his entire first season due to injury, he actually didn’t accrue a season of service time. Accordingly, he has one year of exemption left unlike most players his age coming off an entry-level deal. There’s a bit of value in that from an asset standpoint. If Teasdale improves and is waiver-exempt, there could be trade value a year from now. Aside from using up one of 50 contracts, there really isn’t any risk to keeping him around and seeing if he can take a step forward in his development.
Argument To Cut
There’s a reason that Teasdale has only played in 70 regular season games. He can’t stay healthy. He was never a particularly quick skater and multiple knee surgeries have only slowed him down. In an organization that seems to be eyeing an emphasis on speed and playing quickly, a player like Teasdale doesn’t exactly fit in with that approach.
There’s also the debate of how much it’s worth keeping low-ceiling prospects around. If you’re thinking about tendering an offer to someone whose projected ceiling is a fourth liner, is that contract slot and development attention better served on someone else? It’s one thing to give a second contract to someone that has even an outside shot at playing higher up the lineup if everything panned out but it’s another to extend a second deal to someone who could be a serviceable depth piece down the road.
Despite the last couple of paragraphs, I’m a fan of Teasdale and I’d like to see him kept around. He’d either accept his qualifying offer or sign for the minimum in the NHL with a small AHL raise so it’s not as if he’ll cost a lot to keep around. However, while I’d re-sign him, I’m leaning towards thinking that the Habs let him go. I wouldn’t be surprised if some lower-tier prospects from elsewhere are brought in with the hope that a change of scenery from another organization unlocks some potential. There will need to be contract slots for that to happen and Teasdale’s would be one spot that could be opened up. I’m hoping I’m wrong on this one.