After months of quiet on the ice, rookie camps usually give hockey fans the much-anticipated signal that the season is drawing close. This year, it also signifies a return to normalcy in the schedule and off-ice operations, with the regular season beginning on time and full media access restored in locker rooms. Today, the Montreal Canadiens announced their roster for rookie camp, which will begin September 14 at the Bell Centre.
As per the team announcement, the roster consists of 28 players (15 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goaltenders). Six of those 28 players were members of Montreal’s 2022 draft class: first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovský, right wing Filip Mešár (26th overall), center Owen Beck (33rd overall), left wing Cedrick Guindon (127th overall), center Jared Davidson (130th overall), and defenseman Miguël Tourigny (216th overall).
Additionally, the team invited four players to rookie camp on a try-out basis: right wing Pierrick Dubé, right wing John Parker-Jones, and goalies Antoine Coulombe and Riley Mercer.
The main story of the camp will be Slafkovsky’s performance. The Slovak winger’s spectacular international play this season shot him all the way up to first overall on the draft board, but it would be quite a large jump for the 18-year-old to shift from a middle-six role in the Finnish Liiga to full-time NHL minutes. Slafkovsky will play for the Canadiens organization in North America this season in all likelihood, but his rookie camp performance will be important in leaving a good first impression. Whether or not he starts in the NHL or in the AHL with the Laval Rocket remains to be seen.
There’s also the matter of which young Canadiens defensemen will make the team out of camp. Four candidates jump out on their rookie camp roster as players who could show they deserve an NHL look right away: Justin Barron, Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, and Mattias Norlinder. All four except Guhle made their NHL debuts already last season, while Guhle is coming off a WHL championship with the Edmonton Oil Kings and the playoff MVP award. With at least two NHL spots available for these rookies, it should be good competition all throughout rookie camp, training camp, and preseason.