The Montreal Canadiens finished their team-bonding exercise in this resort town Wednesday by juggling their roster in preparation for the NHL season-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Forward Blair Betts, 31, was picked up on waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers while forwards Andreas Engqvist, 23, Aaron Palushaj, 22, Michael Blunden, 24 and defenceman Jeff Woywitka, 28, were sent to the Canadiens’ American Hockey League team. Blunden cleared waivers at noon Thursday while Woywitka was placed on waivers at the same time. That leaves the Canadiens’ roster at 23, if injured players Andrei Markov, Lars Eller and Ryan White are not counted.
Markov and White are on the injured-reserve list and a decision on Eller has to be made before Thursday’s opener in Toronto. Eller is still recovering from shoulder surgery and may not be ready to play for the first couple of games. He could be put on injured reserve retroactive to the last game of last season, which means he could be taken off the list at any time. Eller hopes to receive clearance to play from the doctors in the next two days.
Betts will start on the Canadiens’ fourth line Thursday at the Air Canada Centre with wingers Travis Moen and Yannick Weber, a defenceman who could not find any room on that unit.
Wednesday’s moves ensured the surprise of training camp, Swiss defenceman Raphael Diaz, nailed down the sixth defenceman’s spot. He beat out Russian blueliner Alexei Yemelin, who will watch from the press box.
The Canadiens’ lineup:
Max Pacioretty -Scott Gomez-Brian Gionta
Andrei Kostitsyn-Tomas Plekanec-Mike Cammalleri
Mathieu Darche-David Desharnais-Erik Cole
Travis Moen-Blair Betts-Yannick Weber
Hal Gill-P.K. Subban
Chris Campoli-Josh Gorges
Jaroslav Spacek-Raphael Diaz