Canadiens send Xavier Ouellet and Laurent Dauphin to Laval Rocket, Staal expected Monday

Laval Rocket players Xavier Ouellet (left) and Laurent Dauphin (right) will play in the AHL after brief stints with the Habs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Eric Staal won't have to wait long after his quarantine ends before he plays his first game with the Montreal Canadiens.

Staal will finally be able to leave his room on Sunday morning after a seven-day quarantine following his arrival in Montreal on Saturday. Even though the Canadiens will be off on Sunday, Staal will be on the ice at the Bell Sports Complex.

Interim head coach Dominique Ducharme said he probably won't wait until Staal has participated in a regular practice before sending him into the fray.

"I don't know when we'll have a full practice," Ducharme said in a video conference Friday, referring to the team's busy schedule. "We'll have mostly morning practices. He'll probably be in the lineup on Monday night."

Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for third- and fifth-round picks, Staal said he is off to a new start with the Habs. He was limited to three goals and seven assists in 32 games with the cellar-dwelling Sabres this season.

Recalling that the bleu-blanc-rouge had one more game on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators before Staal's possible debut in his new uniform Monday against the Edmonton Oilers, Ducharme wouldn't reveal his plans for using the 36-year-old veteran.

"There are guys who are playing well together right now. You don't want to change everything,'' he insisted. "We'll see. We're happy to have him."

Staal is a natural centre.

The Habs now have five centres in their lineup, the others being Phillip Danault, Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jake Evans.

Ducharme noted after the 4-1 win over the Senators on Thursday night that Evans could be moved to the wing if necessary.

Answers will follow Monday night. 

OUELLET AND DAUPHIN TO THE ROCKET

The Montreal Canadiens demoted defenceman Xavier Ouellet and forward Laurent Dauphin to their American Hockey League feeder club, the Laval Rocket.

The Montreal Canadiens have reassigned forward Laurent Dauphin and defenseman Xavier Ouellet to the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

Both of them are going to be available to play in tonight’s game against the Stockton Heat.

— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 2, 2021

The Habs also announced Friday that it had given a one-season contract to defenceman Corey Schueneman.

The Canadiens announced today that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with defenseman Corey Schueneman.#GoHabsGo https://t.co/OJlb5ZqW63

— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 2, 2021

Ouellet played in three games with the bleu-blanc-rouge. He did not score and had a minus-2 rating.

Dauphin did not play during his time with the Habs. He would have been in the lineup on March 22, but the matchup with the Edmonton Oilers was postponed at the last minute due to a positive case of a COVID-19 variant on the team.

Prior to Friday's matchup with the Stockton Heat, Ouellet had one goal and one assist in eight games with the Laval team this season, while Dauphin had two goals and one assist in seven outings.

Finally, Schueneman is in his first campaign with the Habs. He signed a contract with the Rocket on July 2.

His agreement with the Habs will come into effect next fall.

Schueneman, who is 25 years old, collected three goals and four assists in 21 games with the Rocket this winter. This is his second full season in professional hockey after completing a four-year stint at Western Michigan University.

He had three goals and 18 assists in 44 games with the Heat last winter.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

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