While the return of Carey Price to the Montreal Canadiens lineup helped clear the murkiness surrounding his immediate health situation, it did not make his future in Montreal any more certain. Price, who is set to turn 35 before next season, has been one of the best goalies of his generation but questions have surfaced regarding his future with the only NHL team he has ever known. It has been speculated that Price’s healthy return could pave the way for goaltending-needy teams to consider acquiring him in the offseason, but it now seems that idea may not be very realistic.
In an interview with TSN on their broadcast of the team’s contest against the Panthers, Canadiens Executive VP of Hockey Operations Jeff Gorton was asked about Price’s future with his team. Gorton was relatively non-committal, speaking in broad terms about meeting with Price and trying to “see what he wants to do” after the season ended. But after he gave that expectedly vague statement, Gorton did shed some light on how he views Price’s role in the Canadiens’ future. Gorton said: “If [Price] can be healthy, we’d be crazy not to want him.” While that comment is just an answer on a television interview and not any sort of binding statement regarding Price’s future, it does indicate that despite the Canadiens taking a more rebuild-oriented approach to their new regime’s early days, they still have Price in their plans moving forward.
Now, for a few other notes regarding Eastern Conference teams:
- Coach Peter Laviolette issued an update (relayed by Dan Rosen of NHL.com) on the status of Alex Ovechkin today. The Capitals’ captain has been out with an upper-body injury and did not play in the team’s season finale against the Rangers. But although he didn’t play in today’s game, it does seem that he is on track for a relatively soon return. Ovechkin skated this morning and had a “good day,” according to Laviolette, so it’s likely that he’ll be ready in time for the Capitals’ playoff series.
- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe updated the media on the injury situations of forwards Ondrej Kase and Michael Bunting before tonight’s game against the Bruins. Bunting participated in this morning’s optional skate and Keefe referred to both him and Kase as “close” to a return. Since the Maple Leafs’ season will be judged largely by whether or not they are able to get past their first-round opponent, getting both Kase and Bunting back in time for game one would be a major coup for the team. Bunting has been one of the league’s biggest breakout stories this season, with 23 goals and 63 points in 79 games, and Kase has also been a nice find too, with 14 goals and 27 points in 50 games.