SAINT-CHARLES BORROMEE, Quebec — Carey Price is expected to be ready when the Montreal Canadiens begin training camp next month after the 34-year-old goalie had knee surgery July 23, coach Dominique Ducharme said Thursday.
“He just arrived in Montreal not too long ago,” Ducharme said at his charity golf tournament at the Club de Golf de Joliette. “I’ll have more news next week, and he should be there for the start of camp, and if not at the start, very soon after that.”
Price, who was expected to need 10-12 weeks to recover, also had a hip injury that did not require surgery after helping Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. The Canadiens lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. He was 13-9 with a 2.28 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and one shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Price was left unprotected by the Canadiens prior to the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, who chose to protect goalie Jake Allen. Ducharme was confident Price would not be selected by the Seattle Kraken, who chose defenseman Cale Fleury as their pick from Montreal.
“I was never nervous,” Ducharme said. “We knew it was a possibility we could lose Carey but it was the organization’s decision, and they had evaluated every situation and the reasons they believed he would stay with us.”
Montreal will not have defenseman Shea Weber this season. The Canadiens captain has multiple injuries and his playing career is in doubt.
“There’s not just one player who is going to replace Shea,” Ducharme said. “As a group, everyone is going to have to do a little bit more and take up a little more space, but the right way too because Shea gave them that example.”
Defenseman David Savard and forwards Mike Hoffman and Mathieu Perreault are key newcomers for the Canadiens, who lost forwards Phillip Danault (Los Angeles Kings) and Corey Perry (Tampa Bay) in free agency.
“I don’t think our team is going to be that different,” Ducharme said. “We know Shea won’t be on the team this year but a guy like Savard comes in and he plays the same style, we have guys like (forward) Jake Evans who can take on some of the role Danault performed. Every year, there are guys who come and guys who go, but our core went through so much that we expect everyone to continue to take another step forward, that they continue to progress and take on a bigger role for certain players.”
Jonathan Drouin, who is expected to be at training camp, could provide a boost. The 26-year-old forward took a leave of absence from the Canadiens in late April and hasn’t played since. He scored 23 points (two goals, 21 assists) in 44 games last season.
Drouin, Perreault and forwards Josh Anderson and Laurent Dauphin took part in Ducharme’s golf tournament.
“He’s going really well,” Ducharme said of Drouin. “He’s been in Brossard working out getting ready for the season for a few weeks now. He kept in touch with the players all along, and they did too because they care. He’s a good guy, the guys love him, and even though he was not with us, he was still part of it because the guys were close to him.
“So it’s all about himself right now, and taking care of himself, getting ready physically and mentally. Every time I spoke to him, I find he’s in a good spot. He’s relaxed, he’s in good shape, he’s confident and he’s excited. He wants to come back and show who he can be.”
The Canadiens’ first preseason game is Sept. 25 at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Montreal opens the regular season by visiting Toronto on Oct. 13.