Tanner Pearson to test free agency

The 31-year-old won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2013-14 and is hoping to prove he still has some fuel left in his tank.
Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens
Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens will be without one of their veterans for the 2024-25 season, after TVA Sports announced that Tanner Pearson will test free agency.

Pearson, a veteran of 644 NHL games battled an upper-body injury this past season with the Canadiens. He was limited to 54 games, 40 more than his 2022-23 season with the Vancouver Canucks. The 31-year-old scored 13 points and mostly held down a role in the bottom six.

Montreal needs to maintain a mix of veterans and youth, so while it's tough to lose a player of his ilk, it also opens up a spot for somebody else. An increase in the level of competition at training camp in September will make for a more competitive version of the Habs. This should be music to the ears of guys like Emil Heineman and, especially Jesse Ylonen, who will be looking to grab hold of what will likely be his final chance.

If the goal is to piece together a core of players that are in a similar age range, then filling the vacant role internally would be ideal. Even, for instance, Michael Pezzetta - doesn't have a future in the Habs top nine, at least it doesn't appear that way, but he certainly deserves to continue mixing it up on the fourth line. Pearson didn't have a great year and he isn't likely to get any better, whereas Pezzetta brings a certain gravitas to the lineup, which never wavers.

With Joel Armia playing better last year and Christian Dvorak ready to play next year, the forward core will fill up quickly. So losing the veteran might take a bit of adjusting, but it will certainly prove more positive than negative for the Canadiens in the long term. And speaking of long term, it isn't likely that Montreal will be competing for a Stanley Cup next year, so Pearson likely wants to get another chance before his old bones no longer allow it.

Nick Suzuki and the young Habs are familiar with older guys who entwined themselves in the culture being dealt away. It doesn't make it any easier each time another player is moved, but it does give the team another reason to push hard for their spot in the playoffs. It's not as though they need extra inspiration, because finishing the season in April and watching the playoffs on the big screen is enough, but those teammate friendships being distanced isn't easy.