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Slafkovsky, Guhle, Xhekaj, and Harris to start season with Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens Juraj Slafkovsky - The Canadian Press

The Montreal Canadiens finalized their roster on Sunday afternoon, assigning Justin Barron, Rafael Harvey-Pinard Otto Leskinen, Cayden Primeau, and Jesse Ylonen to the AHL's Laval Rocket.

As a result, it's likely that 2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky and 2020 first-round pick Kaiden Guhle will start the season in Montreal. Defenceman Jordan Harris, who played 10 games with the Canadiens at the end of the 2021-22 season, also appears to be starting the season in Montreal.

It appeared that undrafted defenceman Arber Xhekaj would also start the season with the Canadiens but the team announced that he had been assigned to the AHL's Laval Rocket.

Slafkovsky, 18, was seen as the most NHL-ready prospect at this year's draft after scoring seven goals in seven games at the Beijing Olympics, leading Slovakia to it's first ever Olympic medal in hockey. In six preseason games, the Slovak recorded two assists.

Guhle, 20, scored seven goals and added 33 assists in 42 games between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince Albert Raiders last season. He scored three goals in six preseason games.

Xhekaj, 21, has turned heads in the preseason with his physical play. The Hamilton, Ont. native scored one goal and recorded 13 hits and 18 penalty minutes in six preseason games. Xhekaj scored 12 goals and 34 points in 51 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Kitchener Rangers last season.

Harris, 22, scored one goal in his 10 NHL games last season. He played most of 2021-22 at Northeastern University, where he scored five goals and added 15 assists in 39 games. He was selected 71st overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Defenceman Mike Matheson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The team also announced that they have placed forward Joel Armia on injured reserve. The 29-year-old has dealt with an upper-body injury throughout training camp. Armia scored six goals and 14 points in 60 games with the Habs last season. 

The Canadiens practice lines on Monday

Cole Caufield - Nick Suzuki - Josh Anderson
Sean Monahan - Kirby Dach  - Mike Hoffman/Jonathan Drouin
Juraj Slafkovksy - Christian Dvorak - Brendan Gallagher
Rem Pitlick - Jake Evans- Evgenii Dadonov/Michael Pezzetta

Jordan Harris - David Savard
Arber Xhekaj - Kaiden Guhle/Chris Wideman
Logan Mailloux - Johnathan Kovacevic

Jake Allen
Sam Montembeault