Despite still being off for the holiday, the Montreal Canadiens have announced an interesting roster move. The team has recalled veteran defenseman Karl Alzner from the minor leagues while moving David Schlemko to injured reserve. Alzner will join the team at practice tomorrow.
It’s been a month since Alzner was placed on waivers and then eventually demoted by the Canadiens, after finding himself in the press box as a healthy scratch several times. The 30-year old defenseman ended up playing ten games in the AHL, his first in the minor leagues since 2009-10. In fact Alzner hadn’t even missed a regular season NHL game in more than eight seasons before sitting out the Canadiens opener, a move that showed the league that Montreal wasn’t ready to be a rebuilding doormat this season. The team was expected to struggle after trading captain Max Pacioretty for futures, but have instead shown they can still compete in the tough Atlantic Division and it is in no small part to giving their younger players more responsibility.
While Alzner will be rejoining the team, it’s not clear if he’ll immediately go into the lineup for head coach Claude Julien. After signing a five-year, $23.125MM contract in 2017 it was quickly apparent that the former Washington Capitals defenseman would not be able to hold down a top pairing role and was more effective lower down in the lineup. Now with a bit of a wake-up call in the minor leagues, perhaps he will return with determined effort to carve out a role with the NHL club. At 19-13-5 and currently holding down the second wild card position, the Canadiens can’t be handing out second or third chances without expecting immediate results.