The Montreal Canadiens are currently carrying 15 forwards on their roster. However, they could be forced to move one when sidelined defenseman Joel Edmundson returns from a lower-body injury.
Sending rookie winger Juraj Slafkovsky to AHL Laval would be the easiest decision. He's waiver-exempt and just three games away from his entry-level contract officially kicking in. Demotion would slide the first season of his contract to 2023-24.
However, The Athletic's Arpon Basu believes the 18-year-old Slafkovsky hasn't done anything yet that merits a demotion to the minors. He speculates the Canadiens could instead put a veteran such as Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Drouin or Mike Hoffman on waivers and send them to Laval if they clear.
Trading one of them is another potential solution. The Montreal Gazette's Stu Cowan suggested Dadonov as the odd man out. The 33-year-old winger has no points in eight games. He was listed as a healthy scratch during their 7-4 upset of the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and was sidelined by an illness during their 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
Cowan feels Dadonov doesn't have a future with the rebuilding Canadiens beyond this season but acknowledged his trade value is low. He's slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Cowan observes he carries a $5-million salary-cap hit though he's earning $6.5 million in actual salary this season.
Drouin was the subject of trade speculation last month. Like Dadonov, the 27-year-old winger has struggled this season. He's also a UFA at season's end with a cap hit ($5.5 million) that will be difficult to move.