Canadiens: With Gustav Lindstrom Gone, Where Do the Habs Go From Here?

Seattle Kraken v Montreal Canadiens
Seattle Kraken v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

On Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens placed defenseman Gustav Lindstrom on waivers, hoping to send him back down to Laval, but the gamble didn’t pay off. Lindstrom was claimed by the Anaheim Ducks, meaning the Canadiens now have an available roster spot. Lindstrom played in 14 games for the Canadiens this season, registering three goals and one assist. He also played four games in Laval.

The Canadiens acquired Lindstrom from Detroit in the trade that sent Jeff Petry there, also acquiring a fourth-round pick in 2025 as part of that deal. Losing Lindstrom for nothing hurts, even if he was unlikely to be anything more than a bottom-pairing defenseman. But the loss is not too significant, with Lindstrom last playing December 9th for the Canadiens. Clearly, they felt he wasn’t going to crack the lineup anytime soon.

Anaheim now claims Lindstrom, who was clearly looking for a right-shot defenseman following the departure of Jamie Drysdale, who they traded for Cutter Gauthier earlier this week. Perhaps there will be more playing time for him in Anaheim than in Montreal.

As for what this means for the Habs, this was a low-stake move. Losing any player for nothing is not ideal, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. With Lindstrom gone, a roster spot has now opened up, which could mean a few things. It could mean the return of Rafael Harvey-Pinard, who is already close to coming back from injury, or the call-up of Arber Xhekaj, who is playing well down in Laval.

As of right now, the Canadiens are still carrying seven defensemen despite Lindstrom departing, but just 12 forwards. And the Habs want Xhekaj to play and play a lot. So I would bank on that open roster spot going to RHP before Xhekaj is called up again. Laval is playing really well right now, and Xhekaj is a big part of that, with 10 points in 13 games. So, I think the Canadiens would like to keep him there for the time being. There will be less opportunity to play in Montreal.

The loss of Lindstrom also opens up a contract slot for the Canadiens, which is essential when it comes to future decisions. This could come at the trade deadline if the Habs wanted to add a player, or when NCAA prospects are ready to turn pro. We know Lane Hutson will be a priority for the Habs, but this presents the opportunity to sign other NCAA prospects as well if the Canadiens want to. Perhaps they will acquire a talented prospect in the NCAA via trade, and that extra contract slot could come in handy.

Marco D’Amico even posited that this could potentially result in David Reinbacher joining Laval soon, with a spot on the right side available. Reinbacher is in a less-than-ideal situation in Switzerland, so a change of scenery within the Canadiens organization could be a solution. Laval needs a right-shot defenseman, so this is not a far-fetched idea.

In summary, losing Lindstrom was not something the Canadiens likely wanted, as Lindstrom was a fine seventh defenseman. But the Habs still have options even without Lindstrom and will be just fine without him. But we’ll see if something big is brewing on the Reinbacher front.