The Montreal Canadiens will be without two key pieces when the season begins next week, as head coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed today that Carey Price and Joel Edmundson will not be with the team for the October 13 opener. Price, who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, came down with a non-COVID illness and hasn’t been able to practice with the team. Edmundson meanwhile has not progressed from an undisclosed injury and will be out another two to three weeks, as Eric Engels of Sportsnet relays.
Though Price’s absence is obviously important, Canadiens fans shouldn’t panic just yet. The star goaltender won’t be able to practice with the team before the season begins, but still shouldn’t be out long-term. Montreal claimed Sam Montembeault off waivers from the Florida Panthers to serve as backup while Jake Allen takes the net through the early going. Allen posted a .907 save percentage in 29 appearances last season, while Montembeault has an .892 in 25 career NHL games.
Edmundson meanwhile is more concerning, if only because of the lack of clarity on when he will return. The team did add depth on the blue line this offseason by bringing in David Savard, Chris Wideman, and Sami Niku, but they are also without captain Shea Weber. Losing Edmundson, one of their most reliable defensive options, will leave a hole on the left side for the time being.
Speculation immediately goes to young defenseman Kaiden Guhle, who could play up to nine games with the Canadiens before burning the first year of his entry-level contract. There’s a chance that he could get a taste of the NHL while filling in for Edmundson through the first few games, before going back to the Prince Albert Raiders for his regular junior season. One thing not available to Guhle is the AHL, as he played only three games there last season and doesn’t meet the criteria for this year’s one-time exception.
Without Price or Edmundson, the Canadiens will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game of the season.