With countries releasing their preliminary rosters for the World Junior Championships, many teams must make some decisions on whether they intend to send some of their young prospects to World Juniors and interrupt their careers. The Montreal Canadiens could be one of those teams as they have a tough decision to make on Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who is on the Canadiens’ roster.
While on the surface it would be obvious the team would keep him, the team did allow defenseman Victor Mete to leave the team last year and play in the World Juniors. Mete, however, was struggling and was already losing playing time in Montreal. Kotkaniemi is in a similar boat as he started strong, but has just two points in the past eight games and has hit a “rookie wall.”
However, TSN’s Dan Robertson reports that general manager Marc Bergevin met the media this afternoon and stated that he’s 95 percent sure that Kotkaniemi won’t play in the WJC. The 18-year-old has three goals and 14 points in 29 games.
- The impressive play the Detroit Red Wings have gotten from Gustav Nyquist causes many long-term questions. Nyquist, who is on pace for a career season as the 29-year-old already has seven goals and 26 points in 29 games is in the final year of a four-year, $19MM deal he signed back in 2015, could be looking for another big contract. The question that MLive’s Ansar Khan wonders is whether Detroit will consider bringing back Nyquist. It’s likely he will be asking for $5MM per year for three or four years. With the team in the middle of a rebuild, there is no guarantee the Red Wings will consider signing Nyquist a priority, although the team is also well known to give out money to veterans.
- With the Seattle expansion draft on teams’ radars for the next few years, The Athletic’s George Richards (subscription required) writes that nothing worked out last time for the Florida Panthers who made a side deal to protect two defensemen by sending both Jon Marchessault and Reilly Smith to Vegas in the expansion draft. The team’s plan was to protect both Mark Pysyk and Alexander Petrovic. However, neither has been a key member of the team’s defense since then and both may not be on the roster by the time the next expansion draft rolls around.
- After being traded from Calgary to Montreal and finding himself in the AHL, defenseman Brett Kulak could have considered his situation dire. However, Kulak has since been recalled and has found himself a key piece to the Canadiens’ defense and is paired next to Shea Weber, which looks like a perfect fit, according to Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette. “He was playing in the NHL last year, so it was not like I got a guy from the East Coast Hockey League,” said general manager Marc Bergevin. “He’s an NHL defenceman. Our scouting staff liked him because of the way the game is going. He’s a good skater.”