With Laval’s playoff run coming to an early conclusion on Friday following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Utica, they cleaned out their lockers on Saturday and met with the media. Here are some notable tidbits from those discussions.
While it might have seemed like Jesse Ylonen would be a candidate to play for Finland at the upcoming Worlds, that won’t be the case. Players that are on expiring contracts often opt to not play in the event and it appears that is the case here. Ylonen had 32 points in 39 games with Laval this season while picking up 16 more in 37 contests with the Habs. Waiver-eligible next season, it’s quite possible if not likely that his time in the minors has come to an end.
Corey Schueneman will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the defenceman indicated that he’s hoping to land somewhere where he’ll have a good shot at extended NHL time, whether that’s with Montreal or elsewhere. Considering the defensive depth that the Habs have, if Schueneman is looking for a shot at a bigger role, it seems likely that his opportunity will have to come with another organization.
The breakout performer for Laval this season was Anthony Richard. After being more of a role player in stints with Nashville and Tampa Bay’s farm teams, he was pressed into a top offensive role this season. The end result? He finished ninth in the AHL in scoring, a ranking that would have been higher had it not been for a couple of NHL recalls. Richard feels he has made progress toward landing a full-time NHL spot so sticking with the Canadiens would certainly make sense for him.
Centre Brandon Gignac signed a rare two-year AHL deal last summer so there isn’t as much uncertainty about his future as there is for others on minor league agreements. However, play-by-play voice Anthony Marcotte noted that Gignac has a clause in his deal that could see his contract converted to an NHL one this summer. Discussions on that front are expected to occur between him and the team. Gignac had 13 goals and 20 assists in 49 games this season but he’s a spark plug that could play his way into the mix for an NHL recall next season.
As for other players on minor league deals, veteran winger Gabriel Bourque expressed his desire to return for a third season. The 32-year-old didn’t have a great season offensively with 31 points in 66 games which isn’t the best use of a veteran slot but the interim captain played a big role in Laval’s bottom six. Meanwhile, Peter Abbandonato also is hoping to come back although he admitted things didn’t get off to a great start this year as he wasn’t thrilled about being a healthy scratch early in the season. He rebounded to finish second on the team in scoring with 46 points in 66 contests. As for Danick Martel, head coach J-F Houle indicated that based on the conversation they had, Martel will not be looking to return next season.
On the injury front, Mitchell Stephens’ injury wasn’t as bad as it first seemed and had the Rocket moved on, they could have got him back in the lineup fairly quickly. Meanwhile, Nicolas Beaudin’s upper-body injury was a shoulder issue. Beaudin also noted he believes there’s mutual interest in him re-signing for next season.