With Michael Blunden on waivers, the Canadiens official roster is now twenty-nine. . But that figure includes a number of players on the injury list including Andrei Markov and Ryan White and five others destined for Hamilton when their injuries heal.
So, assuming, assuming forwards Travis Moen and Lars Eller are cleared to play Thursday night, there are 24 healthy players in camp. The Canadiens must declare a roster of 23 to open the season. Twenty, including the two goaltenders will be dressed in Toronto.
Moen practiced on the left side of a line with Andreas Engqvist and Yannick Weber in Collingwood this morning, while Eller was part of a fifth line with Aaron Palushaj and Blunden.
So, start the numbers game.
Twelve forwards will dress Thursday night. The top three lines are set. Yannick Weber will probably see action as a fourth line rightwinger with Moen on the other wing. That leaves it between Andreas Engqvist, and Aaron Palushaj for the final starting spot.
Here is the Depth Chart
Right Wing Centre Left Wing
Brian Gionta Scott Gomez Max Pacioretty
Erik Cole Tomas Plekanec Michael Cammalleri
Andrei Kostitsyn David Desharnais Mathieu Darche
Yannick Weber Lars Eller (probable) Travis Moen (probable)
Ryan White (injured) Andreas Engqvist (rookie) Aaron Palushaj (rookie)
Engqvist seems to be the favourite right now simply because he fits a team-need better than Palushaj. I think his training camp was less than stellar, but Engqvist fills a fourth line checking role that Palushaj doesn’t. Palushaj is probably being looked upon as a potential top-six forward. From a development standpoint he would be better served logging those minutes in Hamilton.
On defense we know that Subban, Gill, Gorges, Spacek and Campoli will make up the top five. That leaves two rookies and a veteran going for the last two jobs.
Andrei Markov (injured)
Alexei Yemelin (rookie)
Raphael Diaz (rookie)
Excluding Markov, eight contenders for a maximum of seven spots.. For now the two rookies, Yemelin and Diaz will stay in the NHL. Off his final two training camp games, Diaz has the edge to make the opening night lineup. If there are no further injuries, the big decision between the two will come when Markov returns. Woywitka will go to Hamilton where he will be depth insurance.
NOTES – Outside of Markov and White the Canadiens injury list includes forwards Hunter Bishop, Olivier Fortier, Louis Leblanc and Ian Schultz plus defenseman Brendon Nash.