HabsWorld.net -- 

Brett Stapley’s time with the Canadiens hasn’t come to an end after all.  Two weeks after the Habs gave up his NHL rights, Laval announced that they’ve signed the centre to a one-year deal.

Stapley was a seventh-round pick by Montreal back in 2018 (190th overall) and had a strong college career with Denver. The 23-year-old is coming off a year that saw him record 18 goals and 25 assists in 41 games, helping to lead the Pioneers to the Frozen Four title.  However, that wasn’t enough for him to be tendered an NHL contract.

Instead, Stapley tested the open market over the past two weeks but clearly, an NHL entry-level contract never materialized.  Instead of picking a different organization to begin his pro career with, he has decided to stick around with Montreal by signing with the Rocket for next season.  It’s worth noting that despite this news, he remains an NHL unrestricted free agent for the time being; he’s hoping that a strong showing in 2022-23 will get him that NHL entry-level contract.

It will be interesting to see where Stapley fits in with the Rocket.  There is already a fair bit of forward depth but a lot of it is on the wing so assuming that he can stick down the middle, he could crack Laval’s opening night lineup in a limited role.  Otherwise, some time with Trois-Rivieres of the ECHL would be best from a development perspective.  While he signed a one-way deal with Laval, that doesn’t prevent him from being sent down – it just means that he is paid the same amount either way.