The Montreal Canadiens have taken care of one of their restricted free agents (though not the one some are hoping for). Noah Juulsen has signed a new one-year, two-way contract with the team worth $700K in the NHL.
Juulsen, 23, was a first-round pick of the Canadiens back in 2015 but has hand incredibly bad injury luck over his short professional career. In 2017, just a few weeks after GM Marc Bergevin called him “very close” to being NHL ready, Juulsen suffered a broken foot in an exhibition game. Your first taste of professional is hard enough without having a six-week recovery period keeping you off the ice at the beginning of the season. Juulsen would play 23 games for the Canadiens and 31 for the Laval Rocket, but clearly had more to give.
A year later, in November of 2018, Juulsen’s terrible luck reared its ugly head once again. While playing in the NHL with the Canadiens, Juulsen had slowly worked his way up the lineup and even logged more than 20 minutes of ice time in a win against the Vancouver Canucks. He looked ready to contribute on a nightly basis, playing top-four minutes for the Canadiens and fulfilling his first-round pick status. Then, in a game against the Washington Capitals, he was struck in the face with the puck on two occasions and was forced to leave.
Ruled out indefinitely, Juulsen actually did make a return to play a few games with both the Canadiens and the Laval Rocket of the AHL. In February however, he was shut down due to a “vision-related issue.” In September 2019 he was still suffering from headaches, though just a month later he was cleared for action once again. He ended up departing the team in November to see a specialist, and the 13 games he had played for Laval to that point remained his total for the rest of the season.
With a new deal and a clean bill of health, Juulsen will attempt to make a comeback even at the age of 23. He has played just 93 professional games over parts of four seasons, but still possesses all the skills to be a regular in the Montreal lineup. He’ll have to prove it, but if he is truly healthy Montreal could still have a valuable asset on their hands.