Monday was the final cutdown day in the NHL with teams having to have their season-opening rosters set by 5 PM ET and with the Habs carrying a lot of players still, they had some work to do to get to that point and those moves have now been made.
The following five players were sent to Laval in the morning:
D Justin Barron
F Rafael Harvey-Pinard
D Otto Leskinen
G Cayden Primeau
F Jesse Ylonen
The only particularly surprising one from this group is Barron. He finished up last season with the Habs and acquitted himself relatively well and as a rare right-shot defender, it felt like he’d have the upper hand on a spot in the opening lineup. Instead, the addition of Johnathan Kovacevic gives them three right-shot players on the roster, giving them the flexibility to send Barron down to get top minutes with the Rocket.
While not announced by the team, defencemen Corey Schueneman and Madison Bowey were also sent down after clearing waivers this afternoon.
Two youngsters that technically remain in camp are defenceman Logan Mailloux and Emil Heineman. Mailloux is expected to be sent back to London in the near future while Heineman will miss six weeks with a thumb injury. He won’t count on the cap at all while he’s injured.
Winger Joel Armia was placed on injured reserve. He’s expected to miss one to two weeks with an upper-body injury. That timeline isn’t long enough for the team to consider placing him on LTIR. Mike Matheson continues to deal with a lower-body injury but remains on the active roster while Joel Edmundson was not listed as being on IR or on the active roster which means he has an injured/non-roster designation along with Paul Byron.
Late in the afternoon, Arber Xhekaj – who had been told he made the team earlier today – was sent down to Laval. This was a procedural move to enable them to set their cap-compliant roster and then he will be recalled on Tuesday once Byron is transferred to LTIR, freeing up additional cap space.
This means that Montreal’s official opening roster is as follows:
Josh Anderson, Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach, Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Drouin, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans, Brendan Gallagher, Mike Hoffman, Sean Monahan, Michael Pezzetta, Rem Pitlick, Juraj Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki
Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Johnathan Kovacevic, Mike Matheson, David Savard, Chris Wideman
Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault
That roster, coupled with Carey Price’s cap hit, totals $92,694,166 which is a little more than $300,000 under the absolute maximum that they could have compiled. However, there is a purpose to having players with bonuses on this season-opening roster to create as big of a bonus pool as possible. They opted to prioritize bonuses over LTIR maximization (otherwise, Barron would be on here instead of Harris) and with the Habs likely to carry several players with bonuses throughout the year, that decision is certainly understandable.