Montreal Canadiens: It seems like it’s almost the end for Karl Alzner

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 27: Karl Alzner #27 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 27: Karl Alzner #27 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Karl Alzner hasn’t spent too much of his contract playing with the Montreal Canadiens, and it looks as if his days with the organization are over.

The 2016-17 season was a good one for the Montreal Canadiens, but with an early exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, fans were looking forward to how the team could improve for the next one. Aside from trades, the first place to look to for upgrades is Free Agent Frenzy, and it wasn’t as star-packed as in previous years. Players such as Kevin Shattenkirk, Martin Hanzal and Karl Alzner found a home, but that new home came with expectations.

Alzner’s track record with the Habs has been long discussed. Marc Bergevin added him to the team, hoping he could help stabilize the blueline with the Andrei Markov fallout seeing the long-time Canadien head to the KHL. At the same time, the defenceman went from a $2.8 million cap-hit to a $4.625 million cap-hit with a modified no-trade clause to boot.

The veteran defenceman was meant to be an answer in Montreal, and unfortunately, he became a financial burden. Alzner has only played 13 NHL games since that debut season with the Montreal Canadiens spending the majority of it in the AHL. A trade is easier said than done as the contract is far from being favourable, and the upcoming flat cap is going to make that even worse.

The signs were there that Alzner’s days with the organization were running things, but a number of recent events have all but confirmed it.

It begins with his decision to opt-out of the Return to Play Plan. Via Elliotte Friedman, we know what was behind Alzner’s choice.

With Alzner not participating, the Habs were free to invite one extra player to training camp, and that’s likely how Gustav Olofsson got the call. And then there’s Alexander Romanov’s number with the team which we know now is Alzner’s 27.

According to Arpon Basu of The Athletic (paywall), Alzner wasn’t aware that Romanov would be taking his number (given that his usual 26 belongs to Jeff Petry). All signs point to the final straws being broken here.

Talk has circulated that compliance buyouts are in the works for teams to help deal with the financial consequences of the NHL pause. If so, Alzner’s contract will be a prime candidate to be taken off the books without any penalty. Perhaps this number situation is a sign that Karl Alzner and the Montreal Canadiens are on their final road.

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