The Montreal Canadiens will make Joel Armia a healthy scratch tonight, sitting him along with Johnathan Kovacevic in favor of Anthony Richard and David Savard. Armia is in the second season of a four-year, $13.6MM contract he signed in 2021 after the Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the five goals he scored during that run are exactly five more than he has this season. Armia hasn’t scored yet in 26 games and has just three assists, following a six-goal, 14-point 2021-22 campaign.
It’s understandable for him to be out of the lineup with that kind of production, but it will cause some speculation about his future in Montreal. The 29-year-old Finn was once an incredibly valuable, versatile player that could move up and down the lineup. Now it looks like his NHL career might be coming to an abrupt end.
- Alexis Lafreniere entered the rumor mill when the New York Rangers decided to make him a healthy scratch recently, but The Athletic’s staff writes that the team has no intention of trading him at this point. The 21-year-old first-overall pick has struggled to find any level of consistency in the NHL, though his supporters will point to an even-strength scoring rate that is encouraging. One thing is clear: if he doesn’t miraculously find another level in the second half, he won’t be getting the massive second contract that many top picks earn. Lafreniere is scheduled to become a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, meaning he could be forced to accept a qualifying offer under $900K for next season, should the Rangers play hardball.
- After Slovakia was eliminated from the World Juniors by a Connor Bedard overtime goal, captain Simon Nemec has been assigned back to the Utica Comets of the AHL where he’ll continue to play this season. The young defenseman logged huge minutes for his country at the tournament, racking up five points in five games while barely missing out on a chance to play for a medal. When Nemec was drafted, he committed immediately to playing in North America if the New Jersey Devils wanted him to, even if that meant spending the whole year in the minors. For Utica he has looked right at home, recording 11 points in 24 games so far.