The Montreal Canadiens have announced that defenseman Karl Alzner has informed the organization that he has made the decision to opt out of Phase 3 and 4 of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) July 12, 2020
Karl Alzner Opts-Out
Karl Alzner is a veteran defensive defenceman playing professional hockey since the 2008-09 season. He signed five-year deal worth at $23 million with the Canadiens in July of 2017. At the time, Alzner was one of the best defenceman on the free-agent market. However, things have not worked well in Montreal and Alzner has spent most of the past two seasons playing with their AHL team in Laval.
Alzner joins Travis Hamonic, Mike Green, Steven Kampfer, Sven Baertschi and Zach Trotman as players to opt out of phase three and four of the NHL’s Return to Play plan. That would see players travel to their NHL cities for training camp and then travel to the Hub Cities of Edmonton and Toronto to play postseason hockey. Some players have publicly announced why they have decided to opt-out. At the time of writing, there is no information on why Alzner opted out.
What this Means for the Future
Karl Alzner is not a regular defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens. His presence won’t be missed as badly as if it were a top-six defenceman. However, Alzner was a top replacement option if one of the regular defenceman could not play. Alzner has played 686 NHL games and 64 playoff games. He could have stepped into post-season hockey and quickly felt comfortable. Montreal is also playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoff qualifying round. That is a team Alzner has a lot of experience with having faced them in the playoffs three times when he played for the Washington Capitals.
This is certainly not a big problem for Montreal. They have many replacement options on defence like Noah Juulsen, Xavier Ouellet, Cale Fleury, and Gustav Olofsson. Losing an experienced player like Alzner is not ideal, but Montreal is still in good position without him.