When Rafael Harvey-Pinard Returns, Who Will Sit?

Rafael Harvey-Pinard returned to practice March 1 after suffering a lower body injury against the Dallas Stars on February 10.
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

With Montreal Canadiens winger Rafael Harvey-Pinard's return to the lineup inching closer, the Habs have a difficult decision to make.

Somebody is going to have to sit, and the likely options included waiver-eligible Joshua Roy among others. But while Roy makes a ton of sense, since he can be sent down without any risk of being claimed, he has played exceptionally well lately. There is the option of keeping RHP down in Laval, but it's likely that Roy would be more impactful, given his two proficiencies and his scoring ability.

There are also the likes of Joel Armia, who I recently wrote about, since he has been playing like an inspired player since returning from Laval. Jesse Ylonen is also another option, much like Armia, however, it would require either a trade or waivers. The problem with passing either of them through waivers, is the likelihood of them being claimed for depth ahead of the playoffs.

Tanner Pearson is another name that would require either a trade or to pass through waivers as well. The latter option seems more likely, given his Stanley Cup ring and the experience that comes with it. Contenders salivate at the idea of a veteran forward with experience winning at the highest level; his $3.25 million cap hit is a little rich, but he is a UFA come July 1st.

Rumblings about a Jake Evans trade have also emerged, and while it could make sense, it would leave the Canadiens one centre short. Now there are options down in Laval, but the Rocket need all hands on deck, to hang on by a toe-nail to their playoff hopes. Evans has two more years left with a $1.7 million cap hit, which is easy to fit into the books, especially if Kent Hughes retains for a small sweetener.

With the trade deadline set for Friday, it doesn't seem very likely that Hughes pulls the trigger on anything significant; since he doesn't need to. So it's more likely that Roy gets sent down, although that isn't exactly the move that we all want. I would expect that Hughes holds onto his cards until the draft before swinging for a trade.

Free agency will also be interesting, with Pearson, Colin White, Ylonen and Arber Xhekaj's contract's expiring. Xhekaj seems likely to be the only one tendered an offer, which will leave holes in the lineup. Whether they are filled with a trade or a free agent signing is yet to be seen, but Hughes will certainly have some decisions to make.