Thirty is young. It’s young in life, young in a professional career, it’s 35 years from the official retirement age.
But in hockey, it’s old. Of the top 15 scorers last season in the National League, Erik Karlsson was the only 30-year-old.
Which brings us to times like Wednesday, via videoconference, when Joel Edmundson, just a week after celebrating his 30th birthday, said he felt the Canadiens were going to trade him to “get younger”.
On the morning of July 1, his presentiment materialized. The Habs sent him to the Washington Capitals for 3rd and 7th round picks.
“I felt like it could happen, the way the team was forming in Montreal,” Edmundson admitted in a conference hosted by the Capitals. They want to rejuvenate. I thought it was going to happen in the draft, but nothing happened. Then, early July 1, I found out I was moving to the Capitals. My fiancée and I are very excited. »
The Habs should actually accelerate their youth movement. The team has only two 30-something defenders on the roster, David Savard and Chris Wideman. The latter, however, does not have a guaranteed position; he only played 46 games last season. Mike Matheson, 29, follows among the seniors at the blue line. Then we fall to Jonathan Kovacevic, 26 years old next week, but who has only 81 games of experience in the NHL.
Edmundson is not fooled, however. Guhle is a 1st round pick, Barron was also a pick, acquired from the Avalanche. Xhekaj was never drafted, but had a spectacular progression to the point of bypassing the American League. It is without forgetting Logan Mailloux and William Trudeau who will develop in Laval, in theory.
Edmundson saw it all looming and Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes made sure he wasn’t taken aback.
“Kent did that well. He called me into his office and said, “I know you see what’s written on Twitter, it’s hard to miss it in Montreal.” They were thinking of trading me, but the price had to be good. They would have liked to keep me, but if the price was right, a trade became a possibility. Kent kept me informed throughout the process and I appreciated that. I had no surprises. »
Edmundson has slowed considerably since his 28th of the shortened 2021 campaign, which ended in the Stanley Cup Finals. Over the past two seasons, back problems have bothered him and CH’s collective performance has declined. Since the fall of 2021, he has shown a performance of -30 in 85 games.
The Manitoban, however, claims to feel “good”. “I’ve been going to the gym for two months, I started skating again. I just want to have a full summer of training to come to camp strong. The last two summers, I got injured before camp and it set me back compared to the others. »
Edmundson is well aware of what he can bring to his new team. “I like to use my stick to defend myself, give cross checks, give the opponent a tough night. This is what allowed me to experience such a career. And I want to be a good guy in the locker room. »
On this subject, Hughes had said, on July 1, that he hoped that Edmundson would leave “a part of him in our locker room”, so that the young people of the organization would retain “lessons”.
Edmundson rightly spoke like a guy who wants to lead by example when he was asked what role he wants to play in the U.S. Capital. “I don’t care if I play in the first, second or third pair. I just want to be a reliable defender. »
What does he wish he had passed on to the young people at CH? “The importance of working hard,” he begins to reply. But also, you are living your dream. You have to enjoy it while it passes. Enjoy the days at the arena. During the summer, the guys are at home and can’t wait to get back into the locker room. Give it your all, show up to work and leave it all on ice. »
The Capitals have an experienced blue line, with three other thirtysomethings, John Carlson, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Nick Jensen. Young Rasmus Sandin and Martin Fehervary will have one more big brother in Edmundson.