It’s been a long time. In fact, since the NHL stopped its activities back in March 2020, we only had a few weeks of hockey to satisfy our cravings. But since the NHL’s 2021 season seems to be all but confirmed to start in mid-January, the NHL and the NHLPA are said to be ironing a few last details before making the official announcement, according to some of the NHL’s top Insiders. How exciting is that?
As we’ve just touched on, it seems like the Divisions and the dates have been tentatively agreed upon. In addition, the CBA and the amount (pro rata) players will receive this season have probably also been settled. Which means that the said few details they are working on are likely roster sizes and this year’s salary cap, amongst other things.
Every other league currently playing their season seems to have an expanded roster due to COVID-19. As the NHL will be cramming as many games possible in a week, it only makes sense that they will too go with an expanded roster. NHL teams usually carry between 21-23 players at any given times during a regular season. The league and players will want to up that limit, likely to 25-26 players on a roster.
The NHL salary cap staying at $81.5 million (same as 2019-20 season) has put several teams in a tight situation. If they are upping the number of players on a roster, the cap obviously cannot stay the same. Which means that the NHL and the NHLPA have likely approved not only the number or players on the roster, but an interim cap ceiling for 2021 only.
Habs expanded roster
Having an expanded roster will provide some unusual chances to showcase what they can do. This is an opportunity that would not have happened in normal circumstances. But what exactly would the Habs’ roster look like if the team doesn’t make more change?
Andrew Zadarnowski came up with his likely roster and it’s pretty accurate.
As much as I would like Cale Fleury up with the big club, I don’t see him taking a spot away from any of the eight players on that list, with perhaps the exception of Noah Juulsen. Truthfully, I’m personally hoping not. Juulsen has shown great potential prior to his eye injury and he fully deserve a chance at proving what he can do… and Fleury is still young. To keep with the defense, Andrew has Gustav Olofsson on the TAXI squad. Hard to argue with his experience but personally, I think that Otto Leskinen, who is doing great overseas right now, might pass him.
At forward, I’m not crazy about the possibility of keeping Alex Belzille with the big club. The Canadiens need more sandpaper and he’s not it. Brandon Baddock would be interesting if he was a better hockey player but if Claude Julien wasn’t playing Nicolas Deslauriers, a better hockey player, he wouldn’t play Baddock at all. I’m also not convinced that Laurent Dauphin on the TAXI squad is the way to go when you have Michael Pezzetta in the AHL. After a long time off due to injury, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Joel Teasdale… although starting in the AHL is most likely what we’ll see.
Isn’t fun to start playing around with line-ups, lines combinations and day-to-day conversation pieces? Let’s just hope that COVID-19 doesn’t come back to bite us… again. Go Habs Go!