Montreal Canadiens Recent Roster Moves Make You Wonder What Is Coming Next

Jan 10, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Justin Barron (52)
Jan 10, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Justin Barron (52) / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens made a couple of surprising roster moves this afternoon.

Defenseman Justin Barron has been sent down to the Laval Rocket and Mitchell Stephens found himself on waivers this afternoon as well. These were not moves that many fans saw coming, but they are not the most shocking headlines either.

Barron began the season as the team's number seven defender but has suited up for 41 of the team's 46 games this season. The right shooting defender is a skilled playmaker and terrific skater, adding an element of offense to the team with six goals and 12 points.

Stephens is a depth center who was called up when the Canadiens lost a trio of centers to injury. Kirby Dach has been out most of the season, Christian Dvorak has only played 25 games this season and Alex Newhook was pressed into duty as a center but is also out long term with injury.

Stephens has played 23 games on the fourth line, scoring two goals and three points while playing reliable minutes defensively as well. It stands to reason that he could be assigned to the Laval Rocket as well tomorrow as soon as he passes through waivers.

The question now is who takes on the roles of Barron and Stephens who were playing every game recently? Half of that question has already been answered as Arber Xhekaj was called up from the Rocket, but who plays the role vacated by Stephens?

Though he is just a depth piece, the Canadiens only have three centers on the roster right now. Nick Suzuki, Sean Monahan and Jake Evans will play a lot of minutes tomorrow night against the Ottawa Senators but who else can play down the middle?

In a pinch, I suppose Rafael Harvey-Pinard could slot in as the fourth line center, but that is not an ideal setup. Maybe we could see Lias Andersson called up or Philippe Maillet given a chance to prove himself at the highest level.

Or, is there something else in the works where a center will end up with the Canadiens? Is there a trade cooking that will be announced soon? Impossible to say at the moment, but it seems odd they would reduce the roster to three centers by putting Stephens on waivers.

We will have to wait and see but keep an eye on the Canadiens because they need someone else to play center.