The Montreal Canadiens didn’t waste any time trying to make the team better heading into the 2016-2017 NHL season.
In case you forgot, the Habs sat in first place at the quarter mark of the 2015-2016 season only to plummet out of the playoffs by the end of the season, leading many to believe that the roster, as was, wasn’t competitive enough to sustain a major injury (to goaltender Carey Price) or challenge the existing powerhouses in the Eastern Conference (like the Pittsburgh Penguins). Canadiens management agreed.
When the NHL preseason gets underway on September 26th the team will look decidedly different than it did at season’s end, with fan-favourite P.K. Subban missing from the parade of skaters. Subban was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Shea Weber just prior to July 1st, when Subban’s no movement clause would have kicked in.
Also missing will be Lars Eller who was traded to the Washington Capitals in exchange for draft picks that helped make room for the team’s other notable acquisition, forward Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Love or hate the moves, the Habs have shifted in a new direction with these significant changes and it’ll be interesting to see how the new team gels in during training camp and exhibition games prior to the NHL season opener on October 13th when the Habs visit the Buffalo Sabres.
Don’t expect to see Shea Weber when the Habs kick off their exhibition games at the Bell Centre on September 20th. Weber will be part of Mike Babcock’s Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto from September 17th to October 1st, which overlaps with the NHL preseason.
Fans will have to wait until Team Canada finishes its tournament before setting eyes on Weber and Price; Team Russia to see Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin; Team USA to see Max Pacioretty; and Team Czech Republic to see Tomas Plekanec.
Even with such notable absences, Alex Galchenyuk, who was left off the under 25 squad, Brendan Gallagher, Shaw, and a host of rising prospects will be ready for the first exhibition games beginning with the New Jersey Devils who visit the Bell Centre on September 26th.
Overall, the Habs will play seven exhibition games, four of which will be at the Bell Centre when the home team hosts Eller and the Capitals, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Away games include a visit to Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre on October 1st, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre to face the Leafs on October 2nd and a special date against the Boston Bruins at Quebec City’s Videotron Centre on October 6th.
September 26, 2016 New Jersey at Montreal Canadiens, Bell Centre, 7:30pm
September 27, 2016 Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens, Bell Centre, 7:30pm
September 29th, 2016 Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens, Bell Centre, 7:30pm
October 1st, 2016 Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators, Canadian Tire Centre, 3:00pm
October 2nd, 2016 Montreal Canadiens atToronto Maple Leafs, Air Canada Centre, 7:00pm
October 4th, 2016 Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens, Videotron Centre (Quebec), 7:00pm
October 6th, 2016 Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens, Bell Centre, 7:30pm