BROSSARD - The Canadiens haven't finalized their opening night roster just yet, but they moved one step closer on Thursday.
Five players were placed on waivers, including forwards Matthew Peca, Philip Varone and Dale Weise, along with defensemen Karl Alzner and Xavier Ouellet.
Among those who remain at training camp, though, are prospects Nick Suzuki and Cale Fleury, both of whom have clearly caught the eye of general manager Marc Bergevin.
With respect to Suzuki, Bergevin noted that his development over the last 12 months has been nothing short of exemplary.
"For me, personally, and I could speak for our coaching staff, his training camp last year and today, it's lightyears apart. I think going to Owen Sound, having that playoff run with Guelph, and he won the OHL scoring title in the playoffs - that really brought his game to a new level," praised Bergevin. "What we've seen so far from Nick, we see the Nick maybe quicker than we thought he would get there. He still has one game left [with the preseason finale against Ottawa on Saturday], but he's progressed very well."
Video: Bergevin on the latest round of training camp cuts
Likewise, Bergevin believes Fleury arrived on the South Shore prepared to impress. And he's done exactly that through four preseason outings thus far.
"He had a good summer, came to training camp in good condition, and he has played well," mentioned Bergevin, regarding the 20-year-old defenseman who already boasts one season with the AHL's Laval Rocket on his resume. "He earned the right to probably get another game on Saturday."
Despite their solid play, Bergevin wasn't about to confirm that either player would begin the 2019-20 campaign with the big club.
He indicated that the evaluation process continues and a final decision on the club's 23-man roster would likely come on Sunday or Monday.
But the fact that the likes of Suzuki, Fleury and fellow hopeful Ryan Poehling are still in the mix has Bergevin rather pleased.
"Some of the young guys really stood out," stated Bergevin. "That's music to our ears, especially for an organization to have prospects pushing and battling for spots."
Video: FLA@MTL: Kulak redirects home Suzuki's saucer pass
Even if things ultimately work out for the Habs' youngsters and they remain with Claude Julien's contingent, however, it will be up to them to stay.
"If these young players could help the Montreal Canadiens and at the same time keep progressing, then we'll keep them around," said Bergevin. "If at some point we see that they're tailing off or the pace is getting too fast for them, then we'll have to make a decision."