The Montreal Canadiens have sent eight players to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League this morning.
Forwards Nick Tarnasky, Christian Thomas, Patrick Holland, Mike Blunden and Martin St. Pierre, as well as defensemen Greg Pateryn, Darren Dietz and Magnus Nygren, will be reporting to Hamilton, whose pre-season schedule gets underway tomorrow night.
None of the cuts come as much of a surprise, the Canadiens play their final tune up game this evening when they host the Ottawa Senators. Montreal management is paring the roster down closer to the 23 man roster that will begin the regular season in five days.
They currently have 27 players left in camp, but Davis Drewiske, George Parros and Alexei Emelin all have injuries. Emelin and Drewiske will both miss the beginning of the season for sure, so only two more players will be sent down before the Habs face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
Making the decision difficult for the Canadiens has been the great play of young center Michael Bournival, and defender Jarred Tinordi. Bournival was not really on the radar to begin the year in Montreal, but an exceptional training camp has seen his stock rise dramatically over the past few weeks.
Tinordi played with the Canadiens down the stretch last season and into the playoffs, but with several veteran defenders re-signed, and Douglas Murray brought in, it was assumed Tinordi would begin the year with Hamilton.
However, he has been one of the Canadiens best, and their most feared defenseman throughout camp, so it will be tough to send him packing after such a strong showing.
Nathan Beaulieu was injured the first day of camp, and made his pre-season debut last night. Though he looked great in the game, and will play again tonight, he is the most likely of the remaining players to be demoted.
When Parros becomes healthy, and that will be sooner rather than later, the Canadiens will be forced to either send down Bournival and Tinordi, or risk losing a player like Gabriel Dumont on waivers.
With the way the young players have been performing, it is not unlikely that Dumont and Beaulieu will be pakcing their bags for Hamilton in the very near future, and Ryan White, or Douglas Murray may not be far behind them.