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In six months, the Canadiens’ active roster will be transformed
Did the Habs improve this summer?

It’s an interesting question. It was posed by CLaude Guillet on 98.5 FM and, with training camp only a few weeks away, we can begin to answer it.

Of course, we all know that the Habs aren’t done for the summer. After all, trading Jeff Petry and a goaltender (or at least managing the surplus in front of the net) is still on GM Kent Hughes’ shopping list for the coming weeks.

If the CH releases salary, he’ll want to stay within the cap for the start of the season. If they add more, exceeding the cap by nearly $10.5 million will help maximize Carey Price’s contract on the LTIR.

But finally. All of which is to say that the team currently under Martin St-Louis is relatively unlikely to change between now and the start of the next regular season.

But it will still be different from what we saw to end the 2022-2023 season.

In fact, between the arrivals and departures, the real change will be the return of the injured. It may sound like an old cliché that’s been recycled, but in Montreal, it’s truer than ever.

When you look at all the club’s injured players, it’s crazy to realize how much these guys are going to change the game.

If we take into account the club’s line-up at the end of last season, we can see that about half of the guys who jumped on the ice to face Boston won’t be there next October – that’s two months from now.

Jonathan Drouin, Rem Pitlick, Chris Tierney, Denis Gurianov, Joel Teasdale, Joel Edmundson and Frédéric Allard are gone. And even if they are still with the organization, I don’t think Chris Wideman, Lucas Condotta and Sean Farrell will start the season in uniform for the CH’s first game.

Alex Belzile, Mike Hoffman, Anthony Richard, Corey Schueneman and Paul Byron (because of his health, he didn’t play last year) are the other big players who have left.

Carey Price, who did not play last year, will not see his status change.

Jeff Petry (for the time being), Casey DeSmith, Nathan Légaré, Lias Andersson and Alex Newhook are the players added to the lineup with a relatively legitimate chance of making the regular roster.

And then there’s Sean Monahan, who played so little last year and chose to stay in town rather than go elsewhere.

All this to remind you that if ten or so guys don’t make the line-up, it opens the door to ten or so players joining the starting line-up.

In six months (April to October), the line-up will be transformed.

Sean Monahan, Cole Caufield, Christian Dvorak (if healthy), Jordan Harris, Josh Anderson, David Savard, Kirby Dach, Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj and Juraj Slafkovsky are candidates.

Here’s what it might look like.

Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
Newhook – Dach – Monahan
Slafkovsky – Dvorak – Gallagher
Harvey-Pinard – Evans – Armia
Pezzetta – Ylönen

Matheson – Savard
Guhle – Petry
Xhekaj – Harris

Montembeault/Allen/DeSmith (we’ll see which ones stay in place)

Of course, if Jeff Petry leaves, it could perhaps help Justin Barron avoid starting the season in Laval, or Chris Wideman remain in the club’s 23-man roster.

It will also help Nick Suzuki, who had to do everything himself last year.

The conclusion remains the same: the return of the injured changes the game more than any other factor for a Habs who aspire to avoid finishing last in their division.

But you knew that.

In gusto

– The CH has a good one on its hands.

– Did you know that this player would like nothing to do with the Coyotes?[JdeM]

– Did you know this player wouldn’t want anything to do with the Flyers? [HF]

– Ouch. It could have gone badly in New York…

– Attention tennis fans.

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