MONTRÉAL – The Montréal Canadiens announced that they have signed defenseman Cody Goloubef to a professional tryout contract on Monday. Goloubef spent the entirety of last season facing off against the Laval Rocket as a member of the Belleville Senators.
So… Your organization is based in Canada
You spent the last season exclusively playing teams also based in Canada. The American Hockey League watched as your affiliate, the Laval Rocket, pummeled their way to the top of the division in a year without playoffs. Fans lamented not being able to test the strength the Rocket found against teams across the league. Over in the National Hockey League, you made it to the playoffs by the skin of your teeth. You knocked down three strong competitors on your way to the Stanley Cup Final, but your path to hockey’s most coveted prize ended in heartbreak. Your foe lifted the Stanley Cup as you – and your fans – looked on through the tears of shattered dreams.
In the offseason, structural pillars that helped your team ascend the heights of the league crumbled. Your captain is likely unable to play his role on the blueline due to lingering injuries he played through during the playoffs. Seattle entered the league and robbed your team of a prized prospect on the cusp of his NHL career. Other players signed elsewhere. An offer sheet was tendered, and that offer sheet was not matched. AHL players returned to teams in leagues across their native Europe. They all left holes that needed to be plugged to maintain the structural integrity of the group.
Where do you look to find replacements for those key components? If you happen to be Montréal Canadiens and Laval Rocket General Manager Marc Bergevin, you look no further than the teams that seemed to know exactly how to play against yours.
And that’s what Bergevin has done in signing Goloubef to a PTO.
The 2020-21 AHL season was wacky
Divisions were realigned. Stockton took up temporary residence in Calgary. Interdivisional play was out of the question. Travel between Canada and the United States was forbidden. And playoffs? Where we’re going, we don’t need any playoffs! Unless, of course, you happened to be in the Pacific Division. All told, the year was not altogether different than that of the NHL’s — save for the lack of a league-wide postseason.
Like their NHL counterparts, the Rocket played in an all-Canadian division. They faced Manitoba, Stockton, Belleville, and Toronto as their sole opponents. They ended the season on top of the division after laying a heavy beating on the records of the other four teams in Canada. For all the times the Rocket came out of the gates and never took their foot off the gas last year, they were far from the only team on the ice. One particular opponent gave them some trouble they didn’t always see coming.
If the 2020-21 Laval Rocket squad was the “leave it all on the ice” hardworking protagonist, then the 2020-21 Belleville Senators were their “never say die” foils. The Senators pushed back against the iron will of the Rocket and proved to be their most exciting adversary of the season. The question of whether this game would finally be the game where Belleville bit back and knocked the powerhouse Laval club down a peg or two lingered over every opening puck drop. The Rocket dominated the season series between the two, but the intensity with which the Senators refused to tap out when they were outplayed made the games that much more nerve-wracking and, quite honestly, fun.
So, it is no surprise that Bergevin would look to a team like Belleville to find some bodies to shore up his own battered ranks.
Enter veteran defenseman and Oakville, ON native Cody Goloubef
Goloubef spent last season with Belleville, securing the Senators’ blue line and serving as an alternate captain. The 31-year-old rearguard has suited up in 160 NHL tilts in his professional hockey career and taken the ice 342 games in the AHL. Goloubef has posted 25 points (3G, 22A) in the big show and 128 points (38G, 90A) in the minors. He’s never seen playoff ice time in the NHL but has skated in 12 Calder Cup Playoff games, earning two points – both assists – in those appearances.
Goloubef was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Between 2010 and 2016, he bounced between Columbus and their AHL affiliates before getting traded to Colorado and doing the same. Goloubef signed with Calgary for the 2017-18 season and played with Stockton before signing with Boston as a free agent and beginning the following year with Providence in the AHL. He was traded to Ottawa, where he spent more time with the Baby Sens than with the parent club. He started the 2019-20 campaign with Ottawa before being claimed off waivers by Detroit and closing out the season with the Red Wings. He returned to Ottawa the following year and played the entirety of it on Belleville’s roster.
In 31 games played in 2020-21, Goloubef tallied six points (4G, 2A) and spent 33 minutes in hockey timeout. While that’s not an impressive offensive performance, it’s worth remembering that offense is not supposed to be his specialty – he’s a defenseman, after all.
Against the Rocket last year, fans were more likely to see his name on the box score for penalties than for goals or assists. His goal against the Rocket came on February 19, 2021, in a 5-2 loss for the visiting Senators. Notably, he was also involved in the third-period fight with Rocket forward Alex Belzile on March 15, 2021.
Overall, Goloubef is an intelligent defenseman, a good skater, and aggressive both with and without the puck. If he makes the Rocket out of his PTO, he could fill the gap left in the roster by Cale Fleury, who Seattle selected in the expansion draft. Should he remain with the organization, the biggest challenge to Goloubef’s game should be finding chemistry with new defensive partners and adjusting within the new landscape in Laval as they navigate the waters of their new coaching staff and returning to a semblance of normalcy. At least when compared to last year.
It’s worth noting – while you’re here – that this isn’t the first time this offseason that Bergevin has tapped into last season’s Belleville Senators.
On July 29, 2021, Jean-Christophe Beaudin signed a one-year contract with the Laval Rocket after being released as a free agent by the Senators. Beaudin, a 24-year-old forward from Longueuil, QC, was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. In 2019, he was traded to Ottawa and played 22 games for the NHL Senators that year. Beaudin spent the entire 2020-21 season with Belleville, notching 16 points (6G, 10A) in 34 games. He registered three points (1G, 2A) against the Rocket last year.
With the NHL preseason rapidly approaching and rookie camp wrapping up, fans can expect to start getting a clearer picture of the newest iteration of the Laval Rocket once final cuts have been made. Until then, keep a watchful eye on the opposition – they might be the next to join the ranks of the Rocket.
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