Week 26 in One Word: Expire

May 1, 2022

Expire

/ik-ˈspī(-ə)r/

to come to an end

Similar: cease, close, conclude, die, end, finish, discontinue

to breathe one’s last breath

Week 26 concluded the season for the Montreal Canadiens with just two games on tap. On Monday, the Habs were in New York to face the Rangers and the result was a 4-3 win on the strength of two goals from Jeff Petry. On Friday they concluded their season at home against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers rested some key players, and the Habs gave home fans a show in a 10-2 win that included a Caufield hattrick and Jordan Harris’ first NHL goal. Then Saturday was locker cleanout day.

Here’s how I saw Week 26 go down.

Mercifully, with the final buzzer on Friday night, the 2021-22 season expired for the Montreal Canadiens.

82 games are in the record books, for the first time since the 2018-19 season. Without the aid of COVID-inspired NHL gimmicks, the Montreal Canadiens season has expired with no playoff appearance.

With a final record of 22-49-11, 55 points, and a 32nd place finish, any illusions that the Habs are a piece or two away from contention have also expired. Hard core fans who endured every game – I’m one of the suckers who record and watch the games I can’t enjoy in real time – can now look forward to the real action.

The real work begins now. The opportunity for Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton (HuGo) to prove their mettle is about to ramp up.

With the season ending, the relationship between the Habs and some players is about to expire.

The list of unrestricted free agents is considerable, and some of them will likely move on from the Montreal Canadiens organization after cleaning out their lockers on Saturday. Tyler Pitlick and William Lagesson were both returns in deadline trades that helped make the salary exchanges work. Of the two, Pitlick has made the best case to be retained.

Laurent Dauphin is a local player who can bring cheap depth and is a decent 12-14 forward for a team under renovation. A new contract would not be surprising.

Chris Wideman is a pending UFA who has served the Habs well for what they paid for his services. It’s possible that he has earned a raise that isn’t worth it for where the Habs are at, and if so, his time in Montreal may be expiring. Wideman has expressed his desire to stay, so perhaps something can be worked out.

Two UFAs in Laval are worth considering. Lukas Vejdemo is currently injured and will miss the playoffs due to a hamstring injury. The recovery time is said to be seven months, and that will factor into his options for a contract. Sami Niku has been useful since his demotion, but he may seek an opportunity with another club that intends to give him a chance at the NHL level.

The Canadiens have several restricted free agents as well, and while they remain under team control not all will certainly be qualified. Rem Pitlick and Alexander Romanov are practical guarantees to be back, while Michael Pezzetta and Kale Clague are a reasonable bet. Samuel Montembeault has said he would like to return but his future is tied to that of Carey Price.

In the AHL, Cayden Primeau and Corey Schueneman are likely to be qualified. I have questions about Josh Brook, and if he continues to be part of the HuGo plan, or if his time as a Habs prospect is about to expire.

For two local players, the expiry of this year’s contract may also mean the end of their NHL careers.

Last summer Marc Bergevin responded to criticism from the previous season about the lack of Francophone players on the roster. David Savard was given a long-term contract to help address the lack of depth at right side defence. Two players – Mathieu Perreault and Cedric Paquette – were given one-year contracts worth $950K apiece with the expectation they would bring inexpensive depth to the forward group.

Perreault is 34 years old and has only managed 25 games this season due to injury. He has expressed an interest in returning but it is possible that his NHL career has expired. Perhaps some pleasure can be taken from this season by recalling the 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on October 23rd where Perreault became the first Quebec native to score a hat trick for the Canadiens in a home game since Vincent Damphousse accomplished the feat in 1998. Not every Francophone player gets to hear his name chanted at the Bell Centre, but Perreault enjoyed the honor.

Cedric Paquette also struggled with injuries and found himself dropping the depth chart as kids out-performed him. I’m sure he envisioned more than 24 games played with the Habs when he signed that contract and wouldn’t have welcomed the demotion to Laval. But he has nine goals and an assist in 14 games with the Rocket and offers a veteran presence as they approach the playoffs. Paquette will turn 29 this summer and is likely not ready to let his career expire. Here’s hoping he can impress in the Rocket post-season and earn himself another professional contract.

Locker clear-out day following the expiry of a season is always a revelation.

On Saturday players, coaches and management met with the media for the final time in the 2021-22 season. We learned a few things as we enter the off-season, particularly where some core veterans are concerned.

Brendan Gallagher’s time with the Habs does not appear to have expired. Kent Hughes stated he expects Gallagher back and to have a better year next year. This is not shocking. A trade this summer would be the definition of selling low. Gally will get a chance to prove his fit with the team moving forward or, at worst, boost his value for a trade at another juncture.

Jeff Petry’s expiry with the Habs does not sound as sure as it did at the trade deadline. Petry said he has not ruled out a return and will reflect and discuss the situation with his family before a final decision. Hughes said he will check in with Petry again, but if he is traded will be replaced with another veteran defenceman. We should keep an eye on Kris Letang and whether his time with the Penguins is expiring.

One thing that is abundantly clear for the 32nd placed team is that, as per usual, their fate is entirely tied to that of Carey Price. The plan in net revolves around him. Their placement in the standings next season is tied to him. Their ability to spend in free agency depends on what is happening with Carey’s contract. The HuGo plan is inextricably connected to the potential expiry of Price’s playing career.

And with that, Weekly Word has expired. Thanks for reading!

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

2 thoughts on “Week 26 in One Word: Expire

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