Camp Week One: Surprises and Cuts

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The Montreal Canadiens’ training camp is only a week old and fans and media were already given plenty of opportunities to see the organization’s prospects and veterans in action. While the results in terms of wins in pre-season games hasn’t been impressive thus far, there have been plenty of very interesting stories to follow and, for some, stories to add to their “worry pile”. But it’s just training camp, and very early, right? Right?…

Simply put, some players have left head coach Claude Julien‘s job simple and he has had some rather easy decisions to make so far, and my good cyber-buddy from All Habs, Blain Potvin, summed it up nicely:

It didn’t take long for Julien to make some cuts as Antoine Waked, Simon Bourque, Tom Parisi, Niki Petti, Yannick Veilleux, Stefan Leblanc and Thomas Ebbing were cut from camp and will report to the Laval Rockets‘ training camp. Not a fan batted an eye as no surprises are found on that list of players, none of them figuring on anyone’s list as favourites to cause an upset.

So who is left? The Canadiens posted this list on their twitter account:

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 7.32.05 AM

Aside from the injured list, something the organization doesn’t control, there are some guys on that list that are either intriguing or just plain surprises. On defense, the fact that Matt Taormina, Brett Lernout and Eric Gelinas are still there is a good sign. At forward, Peter Holland, Markus Eisenschmid, Jeremy Gregoire, David Broll and Daniel Audette are all pleasant surprises. Does any of them stand a chance to start the season in Montreal? You bet they do! Remember a few years ago when a young Brendan Gallagher forced the hand of GM Marc Bergevin?

There are however two players making the most of their opportunity: 19 year-old defenseman Victor Mete, who has been paired up with none other than All-Star defenseman Shea Weber, and Charles Hudon, playing on a line with Tomas Plekanec. After a week of action, those two are the ones who seem to have the best chance at starting the season in Montreal and while Hudon could stick, Mete would have to be dominant for him to stay more than the 9 games stint ruled by the NHL in order not to lose a year of contract.

Hudon
Charles Hudon is making a strong case to start the season in Montreal

There are also some who have lost some ground to others, guys from whom everyone was expecting a bit more from. We know the story of Martin Reway, who has missed an entire season to illness. He will need time to find his bearings and it’s likely to happen in the AHL. Joe Morrow has been hot and cold so far, and so has veteran Mark Streit, although it’s not unusual to see veterans having a slower start to training camps. Perhaps the two most disappointing players have been big Michael McCarron and young veteran Alex Galchenyuk. While the young American-Russian’s spot in the line-up is guaranteed, baring a trade, the same can’t be said about McCarron, who has everything to lose. Expect Streit, Galchenyuk and McCarron to step it up in week two.

Of note: One guy who has looked rather good so far is Jakub Jerabek. We knew, through the scouting report, that he was a good skater, good puck mover with offensive upside. He seems to have adapted rather quickly to the small ice and it’s on the defensive side of the puck that he has surprised the most. Perhaps former Canadiens Jaroslav Spacek did see something in that guy that management saw as well prior to signing him. If he keeps it up, he could very well battle for the empty spot to the left of Weber, who knows?

Understanding training camp

The first week of training camp has exposed some rather strange behaviour amongst the fan base and some media personalities. Perhaps driven by their concerns over “losing” veteran Russians Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov, the incapability of some to discerning training camp from regular season, or at least early camp to later when most veterans are dressed for games, it a big concerning. Pile that to the building mount of skewed behaviours by some or our media personalities and disgruntled fans finding nothing positive to talk about, I guess. Life must be incredibly dark, morose and depressing when everything about what you are supposed to love is seen in such manner that it overtakes any positivity you might have. To each their own I guess.

Regardless, entering the final week of training camp is when you separate the men from the boys and this is when it’s really time to step up for those searching for a NHL job. This promises to be a more interesting week, it will be a stepping stone for the coaching staff and management in establishing the base for the upcoming season. Claude Julien does have his work cut out and so does Marc Bergevin, who has $8.4 million in the bank. But something tells me that hard work doesn’t faze the top-two front men of this prestigious organization. Go Habs Go!!!

Sept22sched

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