Canadiens: Nine Players Hit Waiver Wire as Training Camp Progresses

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 06: Montreal Canadiens Jordan Weal and Brett Kulak (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 06: Montreal Canadiens Jordan Weal and Brett Kulak (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

With the start to the 2021 NHL season looming, the Montreal Canadiens have begun making roster cuts, placing nine players on waivers on Sunday.

With the start to the 2021 NHL season just three days away, the Montreal Canadiens have made some early roster cuts, with nine players hitting waivers on Sunday.

Brandon Baddock, Alex Belzile, Joseph Blandisi, Laurent Dauphin, Jordan Weal, Noah Juulsen, Gustav Olofsson, Xavier Ouellet, and Charlie Lindgren were the group of players demoted, a mix of expected cuts from the Laval Rocket, and past depth players and or prospects. Should they all clear waivers, look for them to either  join the Rocket’s training camp next week, prior to the AHL season’s start on February 5th, or join the Canadiens taxi squad.

Baddock, Belzile, and Blandisi, were all expected cuts, having spent the majority/entirety of their careers in the AHL. Belzile was a feel-good story for the team last Summer when he made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in last season’s playoffs, after having bounced around the AHL and ECHL. Blandisi was playing a fourth line role with the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to being traded to the Canadiens in a deal that saw Riley Barber and Phil Varone go the other way. Baddock had spent his entire career thus far with the New Jersey Devils organization, as primarily an enforcer/4th line checker. If they clear waivers, these three will likely spend this season in Laval, with Belzile and Blandisi looking to resume their top line roles.

Dauphin, Olofsson, Ouellet, and Lindgren, while similarly expected, for the most part, are more likely candidates to join the team’s taxi squad, having had a fair amount of upside and interest from the Canadiens organization over the course of last season. Dauphin, a former second round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, had endured a rough season with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, before being traded to the Canadiens in exchange for former first round pick Michael McCarron. Dauphin seemingly had a career revival in Laval, with the Quebec native serving a key offensive role for the team down the stretch, posting 15 points over 25 games.

Olofsson and Ouellet both had brief cups of coffee with the Canadiens last season, with Ouellet joining the team for last season’s playoffs, and either one or the other could join the team’s taxi squad. If not, look for them to resume their top pairing roles in Laval. Lindgren was Carey Price’s emergency backup last season after the failed Keith Kinkaid experiment, but the additions of Vasili Demchenko and Jake Allen make him expendable. He’ll either split time with Cayden Primeau, or see a third goalie role behind Primeau and Demchenko.

Weal and Juulsen are the two most intriguing demotions, with both having been consistent parts of the Canadiens roster. While injuries have limited Juulsen to just 44 NHL games and 47 AHL games over the course of his career, the former 1st round pick of the team carries a lot of upside, and could be an interesting waiver claim for a weaker team looking for some depth on the backend. Weal played a regular shift for the Canadiens last season, posting 15 points over 49 games after his impressive post trade-deadline performance in 2018-19. However, he dealt with consistency issues and struggled heavily in a continued role on the team’s powerplay, seeing just 2 games of action in the playoffs. Similar to Juulsen, he could be an interesting claim for a team, having shown some offensive abilities in past seasons, though if he joins Laval, watch out. Weal had been a top AHL producer in his past career with the Manchester Monarchs.

All of these players were practicing with the B group for most of training camp, and will join the Rocket’s training camp when it starts next week. While most of these players aren’t that surprising given the plethora of new additions the Canadiens have now, they’re going to make the Rocket an interesting team to watch, should they all clear waivers. While the Canadiens will still have to make a few more decisions roster-wise, these players represent the bulk of the demotions.

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The Canadiens will have a practice scrimmage at 7 PM Sunday, which will be live-streamed on the Canadiens website and broadcast on RDS. The Canadiens season kicks off on January 13th with a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.