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The Battle Starts Tomorrow

September 11, 2019, 5:07 PM ET [648 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
At the end of the rookie training camp, 12 players were but meaning that there will be 57 hopefuls at the main training camp. On Tuesday, Cole Fonstad (Prince Albert - WHL), Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (Chicoutimi - QMJHL), Cameron Hillis (Guelph - OHL), Samuel Houde (Chicoutimi - QMJHL), Jacob LeGuerrier (Sault Ste. Marie - OHL), and Allan McShane (Oshawa - OHL) were all returned to their junior teams while Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin, Nicolas Guay, Vincent Marleau, Dylan Plouffe, Jack York and Alexis Shank were all released from camp.



What does this mean? Well it means that 33 forwards will be competing for a job on the Habs 4 lines, 18 blueliners will compete for 6 spots and 6 goaltenders for 2 spots. Let's be honest though, there's no competition in net, Carey Price and Keith Kinkaid will be with the big club while the other 4 will be battling for AHL roster spots and to avoid landing in the ECHL. Up front, the battle will be mainly for 4th line duty as it would be surprising to see new players shuffle the deck in the first 3 lines:

Tatar-Danault-Gallagher
Drouin-Domi-Byron
Lehkonen-Kotkaniemi-Armia

I'm not saying those spots are frozen, Byron could drop off the 2nd line for instance and land on the 3rd while Armia moves up but as things stand, I do believe that these players will be in the top 9. It will be interesting to see who will manage to get a spot on the 4th line or stay with the team as spares and avoid being sent down to Laval or being claimed on waivers. I'd be surprised if Nick Cousins and Jordan Weal didn't make the 4th line and I do believe that Ryan Poehling may end up pivoting that line (at least until the coaches feel KK is ready to move up to the top 6). Nate Thompson should also stay with the Tricolore as he really seemed to be in Julien's good books at the end of last season. As for the likes of Dale Weise and Matthew Peca, I believe they will be going through waivers while Nick Suzuki will be sent to the AHL to work on his play with Joël Bouchard at least for the foreseeable future.

What about the blue line? Well, that's not all that hard either:

Mete-Weber
Chiarot-Petry
Kulak-Juulsen

With perhaps Reilly and Folin staying around as extras. It's a shame for Karl Alzner but I don't see him escaping the same fate he suffered last season. Josh Brook and Cale Fleury might have an outside chance of staying up but the fact is that the organisation is more likely to want them to get plenty of ice-time and they will get that in the AHL under Bouchard's supervision.

Tomorrow, the dreaded physical tests will take place and a few of the players should be tortured by the media to say the same things they say year after year. The team will then practice on both Friday and Saturday before the Red vs White scrimmage is held at the Bell Centre on Sunday. Monday will mark the first preseason game against the Devils and chances are we will not get to see many regulars appear on the ice for that first game but still, being hockey starved as we are, I assume that just like me, you'll be watching.
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