Montreal Canadiens: Joel Edmundson Injury Could Force Habs Hand

Apr 21, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson (Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson (Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens 2022-23 season has started off just like their 2021-22 season. Well, at least not with five consecutive non-competitive losses, but with a lengthy injury list.

The Habs announced yesterday that Nick Suzuki, Josh Anderson, Jake Evans and Joel Edmundson will be limited at the start of training camp. They join Carey Price, Paul Byron and Logan Mailloux on an already lengthy injured list for the team.

This is a stark reminder of last year’s injury woes, when the Canadiens set unofficial records for man-games lost in a season. Hopefully we are not going down that road again, but one of the injuries from yesterday is a greater cause for concern than the rest.

Jake Evans and Josh Anderson are listed as day-to-day, so we won’t worry too much about them. Nick Suzuki is said to be out for about two weeks which isn’t ideal, but will have him back in time for the last couple of exhibition games before the season begins for real on October 12th.

Canadiens Can’t Afford To Lose Joel Edmundson

The injury to Joel Edmundson however, sounds a bit more ominous. He is listed as having a lower-body injury and there is no timetable for his return. If that sounds familiar, it is because the exact same thing happened last season and Edmundson’s back slowed him down until he finally made his season debut on March 12th.

The Canadiens are rebuilding this season, so an injury to a veteran defenceman is not going to be the difference between playoffs or not. However, the Habs can’t afford to be without Edmundson for months to begin this season.

With Jeff Petry being traded in the offseason as well as Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak getting dealt at last year’s trade deadline, there are not many veteran defenders in the organization. Mike Matheson and David Savard are slated to play a big role on the top pairing, with Edmundson and Chris Wideman also playing every night.

The other two regular defenders were likely to be rookies already. Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron, Mattias Norlinder and Arber Xhekaj will battle for game action. But what are the chances three of them are ready for every day NHL roles in three weeks? With Edmundson out, there would be no other choice.

Also, with the limited number of proven options on the blue line, these rookies would have to play a lot of minutes. Is Guhle ready to play second pairing minutes every night? Can Harris move to the right side and play in the top four? It is definitely not ideal to force these kids into these roles if they aren’t ready.

Perhaps Edmundson will be feeling better in a week or two and he can play his regular top four role. If not, the Canadiens may need to move a couple of rookies into prominent roles before they are ready. On a rebuilding team, that is not a good situation.

If Edmundson’s status remains uncertain for another week, the Canadiens may be forced to go out and acquire another veteran defender, or possibly two, to avoid a situation where rookies are forced to play way over their heads.

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