The Montreal Canadiens started their on-ice portion of training camp today, but they were a bit shorthanded. The team announced that Paul Byron, Mike Hoffman, Joel Teasdale, Josh Brook, and Carey Price all failed their physicals as they deal with various injuries. All five players are “most likely” out for the entire camp.
While the news about Price isn’t unexpected, the fact that Hoffman is going to miss all of camp came as a surprise to many after he signed a three-year, $13.5MM contract this offseason. The 31-year-old sniper is dealing with a lower-body injury and it is not clear if he will miss any of the season at this point.
Hoffman was signed to add a little more scoring punch to a group that finished 17th in goals for last season. They bid farewell to Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault, Corey Perry, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but should be getting a full season from young phenom Cole Caufield. One of the most consistent goal-scoring and powerplay threats in the league, Hoffman has scored 186 goals over the last seven seasons, including 17 in 52 games last year.
The Canadiens, who went to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, will have a difficult path to the playoffs this year. The divisions are back to normal, meaning the Atlantic Division is packed with the likes of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs, all teams that finished ahead of Montreal last season. Early injuries can be overcome, but they certainly won’t make things easier.