Montreal Canadiens: Noah Juulsen Inching Closer To Game Action With Laval Rocket

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 15: Noah Juulsen #58 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 15: Noah Juulsen #58 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens had high hopes for Noah Juulsen. He looked NHL ready a year ago but a series of injuries has kept him out of the lineup. He could return to action very soon.

The Montreal Canadiens had high expectations for Noah Juulsen. He was taken in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft when he was a member of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.

After playing two more years in the WHL, Juulsen turned pro for the 2017-18 season and quickly became a key member of the Laval Rocket defence. The Surrey, British Columbia native is a big, physical right shooting defender who can skate well and has a bit of offensive capabilities to his game.

Juulsen played well enough during his first pro season that he earned a call up and an audition with the Canadiens that season. He played 23 games with the Habs, scoring one goal and three points and generally playing a safe, smart defensive style, especially for a 20 year old defenseman.

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Juulsen looked like he could have himself a roster spot on the Habs to begin last season due to his strong first impression. When Shea Weber was injured and missed the start of last season, a golden opportunity presented itself to Juulsen. The young defender took full advantage, playing well in a second pairing role behind Jeff Petry.

However, in a game against the Washington Capitals, Juulsen was hit in the face with two pucks and left the game. His injury troubles from that night continue today.

Juulsen missed about four weeks before returning to the Canadiens lineup four four games right before Christmas. He was then sent down to the Laval Rocket where he played three more games before being shut down for the rest of the season. Injury updates have been hard to come by for some reason, but there were rumblings about vision problems, headaches, migraines and sensitivity to light among other mostly concussion related issues.

Juulsen showed up for Habs training camp this season, but was quickly removed due to headaches. We didn’t hear much more about his status at training camp but he did suit up for 12 games with the Rocket in October and November. Then, he was somewhat mysteriously sidelines once again.

We hadn’t heard anything for about three months on Juulsen, but yesterday there was an update as he retuned to the ice with the Laval Rocket.

The 22 year old was in a contact jersey at practice but is not yet cleared to play games. Being in a contact jersey at practice is a very positive sign for Juulsen’s health. When a player has dealt with as many concussion symptoms as Juulsen has, getting clearance to just return to practice with a regular jersey on is a big step.

The next step obviously is to get him back into game action. It shouldn’t be much longer if he is a full participant at practice already. Juulsen played well earlier this season after missing almost a full year with his injuries. After missing another three months, he will of course be rusty but it will be interesting to see how well he can play after getting back into game shape.

Juulsen showed signs last year that he could be a solid second pairing option for the Habs. He missed a lot of time since then, but is still just 22 years old and could have a very bright future in front of him yet.

With the Canadiens electing not to trade Jeff Petry, they will have a tough decision on whether to re-sign him or not in about 16 months when he is scheduled to become a free agent. He will be 33 years old but the question always is, if the Habs don’t re-sign Petry, who plays second pairing on the right side?

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Well, if Juulsen can get back on track, he could be ready to take on that role for the 2021-22 season. It is a long way off, but he was on an uphill trajectory when he was injured. If he can get back on that path, he could be playing a big role for the Habs in no time.