Forward Cedric Paquette returns to training with the Habs, as roster starts to take shape

Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme calls out a drill during the first day of on ice training camp Thursday, September 23, 2021 in Brossard, Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The Montreal Canadiens received a reason to be thankful on the holiday weekend as forward Cedric Paquette resumed training with his Montreal Canadiens teammates at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

Paquette, who has been out for nearly two weeks with a lower-body injury, took part in a full practice on Monday after skating alone for a few days.

He was part of a trio with Mathieu Perreault and Artturi Lehkonen. Ryan Poehling and Alex Belzile were the extra forwards, alternating on the fourth line.

"It was the first time in two weeks that I skated with the guys and it went great," he said. "We'll see how the body reacts tomorrow, but if the coach wants, I'll be in the starting lineup on Wednesday (for the first game of the regular season).''

Paquette signed a one-year contract with the Habs over the summer.

Here are the lines and defense pairings from Monday's practice ��https://t.co/HqsWi5U1RU

— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) October 11, 2021

The 28-year-old Quebecer said he plans to build on his versatility and a tough but simple style of play to carve out a niche for himself in Montreal.

"When I accepted the offer (from the CH), my goal was to find a stable place in the NHL, like when I played for (the Tampa Lightning)," he said. "It's not easy, because there are a lot of young players coming up. So you have to adapt, and that's what I'm doing now. I want to take my place, be in the line-up every night, and if possible sign a long-term deal here."

Paquette scored four goals and as many assists in 47 games last season with the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes.

The forward was selected in the fourth round, 101st overall, by the Lightning in the 2012 NHL draft, and he believes he knows how to get that coveted contract.

"It's all the little things I can bring," said Paquette. "You always need a guy who does the little details the right way. That's what it takes from a guy on the fourth line. You don't want to be too bold (in your play), and that's something I do well. And if they need a guy at centre, left or right, in a defensive role, I think I can do the job there."

Paquette's return does not bode well for some of the forwards still in camp, such as Poehling and Belzile. Teams have until Monday at 5 p.m. to make their rosters official for the 2021-22 NHL season.

Head coach Dominique Ducharme had good things to say about Belzile and Poehling.

"He's (Belzile) never stopped pushing himself, year after year, to get better, so he deserves the success he's getting," said Ducharme.

Asked if Poehling will be with the team at 5:01 p.m. on Monday night, Ducharme quipped, "He's going to be here tomorrow (Tuesday)."

GUHL AND PRIMEAU SENT DOWN

The picture is starting to become clearer for the Habs, who will begin their season on Wednesday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Defensively, Sami Niku, back after a 10-day absence due to a concussion suffered on Oct. 1 against the Senators in Ottawa, Kaiden Guhle, and Chris Wideman all took part in practice. Wideman took reps on the right side of Alexander Romanov, while Niku and Guhle were paired together.

Not surprisingly, Ducharme said after practice that Guhle will return to his junior club, the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL), while goaltender Cayden Primeau will continue his training with the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League.

"In both cases (Guhle and Primeau), they need to play, continue to mature as hockey players and as individuals. They need that time to continue to develop," explained Ducharme.

Ducharme confirme que Guhle a été cédé à Prince Albert (WHL) et que Primeau se rapportera à Laval (AHL).

Ducharme confirms that Guhle has been assigned to Prince Albert (WHL) and Primeau will report to Laval (AHL).#GoHabsGo

— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) October 11, 2021

It should be noted that Jake Allen, who will likely be the Canadiens' No. 1 goaltender in the absence of Carey Price, warmed up with some teammates before the practice. However, he did not follow his teammates onto the second rink for the regular practice.

Ducharme noted that these 15-minute warm-ups before the start of regular practices will be commonplace this season. Samuel Montembeault, who is expected to be Allen's backup at the start of the campaign, and Primeau took over during regular practice.

Forward Mike Hoffman skated alone again after the Habs' practice.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 11, 2021. 

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