Montreal Canadiens: Karl Alzner returns but can it lead to something more?

LAVAL, QC - DECEMBER 28: Karl Alzner (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
LAVAL, QC - DECEMBER 28: Karl Alzner (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Karl Alzner is set to make his season debut with the Montreal Canadiens against the Ottawa Senators, which may open more doors than initially thought.

At the end of last season and the beginning of this one, Karl Alzner voiced his displeasure of being sent to the minors. The demotion was shocking at first, given the NHL resume he created for himself playing in 682 regular-season games and 64 in the playoffs. He was determined to work his way back into the NHL, whether it was with the Montreal Canadiens or another team if the opportunity presented itself.

It didn’t do much for Alzner last year as he only suited up for nine Habs games while this season saw him start the year in the AHL with the Laval Rocket. Since then, the 31-year-old has been a mainstay on the top-pair with 2017 second-round pick Josh Brook.

Alzner put up one goal and 12 assists for 13 points in his 53-game campaign with the Rocket. However, the concern when it comes to playing in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens was his skating. That aspect of Alzner’s game was really exposed at the start of last year when the coaching staff wanted more movement and activation from the blueline.

It seems as if that quality was one of the bigger reasons as to why the likes of Gustav Oloffson, Otto Leskinen, and Xavier Ouellet get the call ahead of him. A pile of injuries has gifted Alzner this opportunity with Victor Mete and Ouellet getting hurt. Additionally, Leskinen was injured down in the AHL, making the choice come down between Alzner and Oloffson, who had a short stint with the Montreal Canadiens earlier in the year.

More from Editorials

Alzner is now up with the team on an emergency basis and will suit up with the Ottawa Senators. What some may see as a stop-gap, Karl Alzner should see as a glowing chance to turn some heads and change opinions on his game.

The veteran is primarily a defence-first, and that’s what the team will be looking from him. The competition won’t be too extraneous either. Not only are the Ottawa Senators the competition, but Alzner will be suiting up on the bottom pair with Christian Folin. That said, the Sens do play the Habs very well regardless of where they’re sitting in the standings, which could make things really interesting.

The downside of the nature of Alzner’s recall is that he would need to be sent down as soon as the Montreal Canadiens have an opportunity to replace him. That’ll come down to how Mete and Ouellet are feeling. If they’re out longer, it could give Alzner a decent stretch of games to play and reacquaint himself with the NHL.

Perhaps it leads to defenceman getting an opportunity with another team. Monday’s Trade Deadline may have some surprises for the league with the Habs being at the epicentre of it all. It wouldn’t make any sense for a team to trade for Alzner after seeing one of his games against a bottom-feeder in the NHL. Not to mention the fact that his contract is very much still a defining factor that has a $4.625 million cap hit for another two years.

That said, this stint may trigger a couple of thoughts and lead to further discussions over the summer, which could see Alzner get his wish of a new opportunity.

Lehkonen Returns, But What Kept Him Out?. dark. Next

There’s a lot of optimism here, but it is something that could end up working out on multiple levels for both sides. This may be the chance and platform Karl Alzner has waited for all season.