The Montreal Canadiens are in an awkward place. They keep winning games even though injuries are piling up, and at this point, it would be better for them to fall in the standings than rise. Even though the odds are stacked against them to draft coveted Connor Bedard, they are still in the thick of the sweepstakes, especially where they have two chances to get the first-overall pick in the lottery because they also own the Florida Panthers’ pick — although they have seemed to turn a corner and moved farther away from the bottom 10. With the trade deadline fast approaching, here is the latest news and rumours from Le Belle Province.
Caufield Out for Season
Cole Caufield was well on his way to being the first 40-goal scorer the Habs have had since Vincent Damphousse in the 1993-94 season. He was on pace to score 48 goals and possibly 50, but now we will never know what he would have finished with, because the Canadiens decided to shut him down for the season to have shoulder surgery, to the dismay of many fans. Caufield was one of the few reasons to watch Montreal this season to see if he could break the 40- or 50-goal mark; now, many feel there is no point in watching the rest of the season.
It was reported that Caufield suffered the injury two to three months ago but played through it, making many question “why?” in a lost season like this one. The Canadiens’ medical staff, general manager (GM), Caufield, and his agent Pat Brisson were all involved in the decision to stop playing. Caufield is also in a contract year, and better numbers means the more money; that’s not to say he kept playing for cash, but hockey players are proud and usually always want to play through injuries no matter what. It was a progressive injury, and he could have played 20 more games, but the wrong hit or fall could have been a disaster, and that’s why they collectively decided to end the season for him to ensure he will be 100% next season.
Dach Is Having His Second Maintenance Day
With news of Caufield’s injury and the fact he played through it for some time, eyebrows are being raised with the number of maintenance days Canadiens’ forward Kirby Dach has been taking lately. He took a hard hit from Radko Gudas in a game against the Panthers that left him hobbling, but he continued to play the next game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dach is having a breakout season with the Habs, scoring a career high in points with 29 and is one away from his career high in goals with eight. He is also solidifying himself as a hard-nosed, two-way forward. He is everything Montreal hoped he would be when they acquired him at this summer’s draft.
Dach has been one of the few positives on the Canadiens this season and has won the fans over with his style of play. If he has a progressive injury like Caufield’s, Montreal would be wise to shut him down early as well. In a season where development is supposed to matter more than wins, there is no need to keep playing an injured player. This, of course, is all speculation; Dach may not have a severe injury but one that needs a little work here or there. The Canadiens have had a rash of serious injuries over the years and set a new record last season for man-games lost with over 700; if this keeps up, they could once again challenge that record.
Monahan Could Be Back Soon
Another Canadiens’ wounded warrior could be on his way back soon. Sean Monahan is now skating with the team in a non-contact jersey, indicating that he could be back in action sooner than later. He has only played 25 games, but has been a very impactful player, scoring 17 points and giving Montreal solid depth down the middle. Some people may be surprised he is coming back because the team put him on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) not long ago. This was just a paper move to make cap room so they could bring players up from the Laval Rocket to replace injured players; it didn’t indicate he would be out longer.
When Monahan returns, he could bring some balance to the team at center ice and help Dach become a better center. The Canadiens still see Dach as a future center, not a winger, but he needs to get better at faceoffs, and Monahan can help with that. He is also the most valuable trade chip for the team to acquire that third first-round pick that GM Kent Hughes said he would like to get. Monahan scoring 17 points in his 25 games shows that he is back to being a solid top-six player, and with his injury not related to his twice-repaired hip, there are no issues with his long-term health. Many teams would love to have him for the playoff run, and Hughes should have no problem getting what he wants.
Flames Eyeing Anderson
The trade deadline is fast approaching, and one name that keeps coming up in rumours is Canadiens’ forward Josh Anderson. He has been linked to teams like the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames, who seem to be coming back to discussions with Hughes on Anderson. The Flames made significant moves in the offseason by trading Matthew Tkachuk for Jonathan Huberdeau and signing free agent Nazim Kadri. Now that they are in a playoff spot and looking to make a long playoff run, a power forward like Anderson would be a great complement to the team.
The Flames require a goal scorer like Anderson, who cannot only score, but skate and use his body; recently, he is also killing penalties for the Canadiens. The issue with Anderson is he is very streaky and scores goals in bunches, then disappears for long periods, and the Flames also need to make cap room to take on his contract. The Canadiens would want a top prospect and probably another first-round pick, but the Flames may not want to pay that price. In the past, Hughes said Anderson is part of the Habs’ plans, so this could be all smoke and no Flame.
Injuries keep piling up for Montreal, with Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia out until the All-Star Break, Juraj Slafkovsky out for three months, Brenden Gallagher, Jake Evans, and Kaiden Guhle out long-term, and now Caufield done for the season. The Canadiens will be hard-pressed not to finish in the bottom five of the league. For some, that is a beautiful spot. Others want to see their young players develop, but it’s hard to develop with most of them injured.
That’s the news this week; with the trade deadline fast approaching, be prepared for more information and rumours from The Hockey Writers.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com. Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on CTV news and ESPN Radio; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.