Montreal Canadiens 2020-21 NHL season preview

carey price

The 2020-21 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to preview all 31 teams. Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at how the offseason affected each team, the most interesting people in the organization, and the best- and worst-case scenarios. Today, we look at the Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal Canadiens 2019-20 Rewind

Record: 31-31-9 (71 points); fifth place in Atlantic Division; 12th place in Eastern Conference

Leading scorers: Tomas Tatar (22 goals, 61 points); Brendan Gallagher (22 goals)

The Canadiens were the 24th and final team to qualify for the playoff bubble in the NHL’s Return To Play, and once they got there they stunned everybody by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Play-In Round. Even with their disappointing record, there were some reasons to be optimistic about the Canadiens chances.

They were an outstanding possession team, they played well at 5-on-5, and had a goalie that could still get hot from time to time and put the team on his back. That is exactly what he did, and it got them into the field of 16 where they ultimately lost a very close series to the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. Three of their four losses were by a single goal, and they allowed more than two goals in just two of the six games (and never more than three).


Tyler Toffoli (free agency), Jake Allen (trade), Joel Edmundson (trade), Josh Anderson (trade), Michael Frolik (free agency), Corey Perry (free agency)


Max Domi (trade), Nate Thompson (free agency)

Montreal Canadiens
Getty Images

3 Most Interesting Montreal Canadiens

Nick SuzukiA major breakout candidate for the 2020-21 season. Suzuki was one of the key parts of the Max Pacioretty trade two years ago, and he put together a very strong rookie season for the Canadiens. By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was one of their top players and looks like he has a chance to be a key building block for the foreseeable future. Combined with the production they get from Tomas Tatar, the Pacioretty trade has worked out extraordinarily well for Montreal.

What makes Suzuki so interesting for the Canadiens is that between him and Jesperi Kotkaniemi they have two very promising young centers that could help fill what has been an organizational void the past few years.

After finishing with 41 points in 71 games as a rookie, big things should be expected for him this season. If he takes that sort of step it is going to have a major impact on the Canadiens’ chances.

[MORE: 2021 NHL schedule notes: Stats, oddities, fuel for nasty rivalries]

• Josh Anderson. The most shocking contract of the offseason was the massive seven-year, $38 million deal the Canadiens signed Anderson to shortly after acquiring him from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Max Domi. In short, it seems risky.

At his best, Anderson is a really good power forward that has 25-30 goal ability. He could potentially bring some finishing ability to a team that lacked it a season ago. The concern is that Anderson is coming off of an injury-plagued season that saw him appear in only 26 games and score just a single goal.

The Canadiens are taking a pretty big and expensive gamble that Anderson is not only fully recovered and healthy, but that he can return to being that 25-goal power forward.

Any time you sign a non-star to a seven-year contract there is going to be some risk with it. That risk only gets increased when the player in question scored one goal in 26 games the most recent time we saw him on the ice.

[Related: ProHockeyTalk’s 2020 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

• Jake Allen. Yes. The backup goalie. This is a fascinating situation because this is one of the biggest moves the Canadiens made this offseason. By acquiring Allen and his $4.8 million salary cap hit the Canadiens have nearly $15 million invested in goalies this season, far more than any other team in the league. By re-signing him to a two year-contract extension ($2.875 million) beyond this season, it means they will have more than $12 million committed to the position through the 2022-23 season. That is a significant portion of your salary cap space going to a position where only one player can play at a time.

Will it be worth it?

For starters, Allen does give the Canadiens something they have been lacking for a couple of years now. A capable backup goalie that can win them some games when Carey Price does not play.

It also allows Price — who is entering his age 33 season — to not have to play as many games, stay fresh, be rested, and potentially play a little better as a result. Goalie tandems (or platoons, if you want to call them that) are a big thing right now and Montreal has made a substantial investment in its goalie position.

Best-Case Scenario

The two goalies play great, Suzuki and Kotkaniemi both take big steps forward in their development, while Anderson and Toffoli bring some much needed scoring depth to the forward lines. All of that happens and the Canadiens suddenly have a very formidable roster, and one that could very easily find itself in the top-four of the North Division and back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Worst-Case Scenario

Price declines, the Anderson gamble doesn’t pay off, one of the young centers does not take a step forward, and their Play-In round win against the Penguins a year ago turns out to be a massive mirage that tricked the front office into thinking the team was better than it actually was. The team ends up in a situation where it misses the playoffs and has to deal with some potentially significant unrestricted free agents (Tatar, Phillip Danault) and has limited salary cap space to re-sign them thanks to their big spending this offseason.

Pointsbet – Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup odds

Pointsbet Stanley Cup odds: Canadiens +3000 (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Scroll Down For:

    Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

    coyotes suspension
    Donald Page/Getty Images
    1 Comment

    NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

    Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

    Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

    “The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

    The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

    A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

    “We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”

    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

    flyers wild
    Len Redkoles/Getty Images
    1 Comment

    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.