“We feel it’s different from a normal camp. It’s strange. ”
Tomas Tatar could hardly have found better words. It takes a strange year for Corey Perry to move to two wins from winning the Stanley Cup in September and then be waived in January.
Or so that his new coach, Claude Julien, “cross his fingers” so as not to lose a player he did not retain in his starting lineup for the inaugural match on Wednesday night.
The end of training camps has led to impressive staff movements across the league. It is not so much the number of players subject to waivers that clashes as the names on the list. The teams are taken by the throat financially; there is hardly any friendship left.
Michael Frolik, 13 seasons and 850 game veteran. Mathieu Perreault, 11 seasons and 627 games. Tyler Johnson, who lifted the Stanley Cup just three months ago. Derek Ryan, Luke Schenn, Jacob De La Rose, Luca Sbisa …
Not necessarily stars, but players who should not miss work and who nevertheless move towards the very unattractive emergency squad of their respective team. Where we will train to remain in “match condition”, to quote Julien, without being certain that we will play a game soon.
The fact that the Habs placed Perry and Frolik on waivers is hardly surprising. They had been warned of the situation from the start, confirmed Julien.
By accepting low-cost contracts ($ 750,000 each) a few days before the start of camp, they knew they were destined for the emergency squad. Despite their long experience, this is the closest they could find to a regular NHL position this year. And the tie-off is only an obligatory, administrative passage between the Canadian and the reserve team – the rules governing the comings and goings between the two bodies are the same as between the NHL and the American League.
This does not prevent seeing such well-known names resigning themselves to this fate from marks the imagination. And will present its management issues for the coaches of the circuit.
Julien himself admitted that he was venturing into uncharted territory. “We will manage as we move forward,” he summarized.
He especially emphasized the importance of physical preparation. But the challenge will not end there.
Take Jordan Weal, for example. Like torture, every day of the offseason seemed to take him away from a position in the main team. The club’s room for maneuver has shrunk quickly with the successive acquisitions of Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli. And at 1.4 million, Weal’s salary was becoming a handicap for a support player like him.
From the first day of training camp, he was assigned to Group B. The one from which all members, without exception, were cut off. A year ago his position was not on the line, and he was even getting his turn on the power play – much to fans’ dismay, it is true. We therefore suspect that he is not thrilled by his fate today.
“Marc [Bergevin] and I, we had a good discussion with him, said Julien. I don’t think he was a guy we wiped out. On the other hand, his salary is quite high compared to the space we have under the salary cap. But he’s still with us. If we need his services, he can join the team. We could see him again. ”
If he does indeed join the emergency squad as planned, Weal will spend his great days with his teammates at the “real” club, just like Perry and Frolik, for that matter. And Xavier Ouellet, who we also suspect that the career plan did not plan to travel to the arenas of the NHL to attend games from the stands.
It is assumed that working relationships could be tinged with some unease. Tomas Tatar, however, assured that we are not there at all.
“There will be a lot of movement this season, he warned. We’re happy to have Corey, Michael and Jordan around us. We will need their experience. ”
Perry is probably the one we are likely to see appear the fastest in the French uniform. He no longer has the legs or the offensive touch of his 20 years, but he has made a strong impression with his new teammates. “He’s got a big presence, he’s good with the puck,” said Jeff Petry, essentially echoing what his teammates have said about the new No. 94 over the past few days.
Julien abounded. At camp, “he was an impact player,” he said. “He brings elements that we can use in our team. We keep our fingers crossed that it is not claimed on waivers. ”
Considering the circumstances that brought Perry to Montreal, it would be surprising if the other teams suddenly developed a passion for the former Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.
It would even be rather strange, to take up a trendy theme, but nevertheless consistent with this season which promises to be extraordinary.
We will know this Tuesday noon if the logic has been respected.