The Montreal Canadiens knew they were heading towards a roster crunch, but weren’t able to trade away their problems in time. Today the team has placed Jacob de La Rose on waivers, and risk losing him to another organization. The 23-year old forward had been dealing with a minor health concern to start the year, but with his return to action along with the impending return of Nicolas Deslauriers, the team had to make a decision on who to send down. With only Jesperi Kotkaniemi still waiver-exempt among the forward group, de La Rose has drawn the short straw and will be available for claim. Stephen Gionta, the only player on waivers yesterday, has cleared for the New York Islanders.
There is certainly reason to believe that de La Rose will be claimed by someone around the league, given his relatively high draft pedigree and still youthful career. Selected 34th overall in 2013, there were plenty who believed the Swedish forward could develop into a solid two-way player capable of using his size and speed to create offense on a regular basis. That hasn’t happened at any level, with de La Rose recording his professional high of 31 points in a combined 71 games in 2016-17. He experienced a minor cardiac episode earlier this summer which has kept him out of the lineup, but it’s his on-ice performance that’s put him in a situation like this.
It’s hard not to like the package though, as de La Rose stands 6’3″ and can skate extremely well for his size. Any number of teams may believe that he represents an upgrade on their fourth line, and a worthwhile investment. There is of course the fact that he is signed to a two-year, one-way contract with a cap hit of $900K, something that teams may not want to take on with no guaranteed production. That might help the Canadiens slip him through waivers and allow them to send de La Rose to the minor leagues, at which point they would still owe him the full salary but his cap hit would be removed from their books.