Montreal Canadiens: Storylines and battles heading into training camp

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 26: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen (58) congratulates Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) after winning the game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens on March 26, 2018, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 26: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen (58) congratulates Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) after winning the game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens on March 26, 2018, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 29: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images) /

A Triple Threat Match

It’s safe to say the pay-per-view event at Montreal Canadiens-mania for the fourth-line centre spot is between Jacob de La Rose, Matthew Peca, and Michael McCarron.

The Habs avoided salary arbitration signing de La Rose to a two-year $900,000 deal. His play took a turn to the more positive end after the Plekanec trade allowed him to play with Alex Galchenyuk and Artturi Lehkonen. It was as if the 23-year-old was finally able to work to his strengths. Offence isn’t de La Rose’s thing, but he can create time and space for the more skilled players on the ice and allow them to work their magic in the offensive zone.

Peca, however, is competition for de La Rose as he can generate a lot offensively through his playmaking ability. The free agent signed a two-year $1.3 million per deal during Free Agent Frenzy, and Bergevin expects him to be on the team. His resume in the NHL is limited, but his speed and vision can provide the bottom nine with some firepower. Especially if Peca lines up with a player such as Charles Hudon who spews out shots and scoring chances.

Related Story. Discussing Peca's Possible Role. light

McCarron is the off-man out of the fight and has a large mountain to climb to make the team in my opinion. He finally chose to sign his qualifying offer, and this looks to be his final chance. Can he force Julien’s hand and make the team? Seeing the two players he has to go against, there’s a strong disadvantage against him.

Perhaps he stakes his engagement and defensive play to a whole new level. But that may not be enough to sway the coaching staff.