MONTREAL - Montreal Canadiens rookie hopefuls Max Pacioretty and Yannick Weber survived another round of cuts Wednesday night as the club sent forwards Ben Maxwell, Gregory Stewart and Matt D'Agostini to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.
That leaves 30 players in Canadiens training camp, which shifts to the ski resort town of Mont-Tremblant, Que., for Thursday and Friday before the Habs play their final pre-season game Saturday night at home against the Minnesota Wild.
D'Agostini scored two goals in four pre-season games, while Maxwell had one goal in four games and Stewart managed an assist in five games with 11 penalty minutes.
Aside from Pacioretty and Weber, the other players remaining in camp who did not finish last season in the NHL are centre Kyle Chipchura, goalie Marc Denis, and defencemen Alex Henry and Mathieu Carle, who is injured with a concussion.
Pacioretty and Weber have been the big surprises of training camp thus far.
With the departure of Swiss countryman Mark Streit, Weber has taken advantage of the opening on the point of the Canadiens power play. He has scored twice and show some great offensive flair in the pre-season, though his defensive game still needs a lot of work.
Weber had another strong game in Montreal's 3-1 win over Boston on Wednesday, using his heavy point shot to create a rebound that Patrice Brisebois buried on the power play.
Pacioretty has shown improvement in all five games he's played, finally scoring his first of the pre-season in Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings.
There's been a lot of talk in Montreal about how Pacioretty's emergence may cost Guillaume Latendresse his spot, and Latendresse responded Wednesday with his first goal of the pre-season.
"If I lost my spot, it would be because somebody's played better than me and I don't think anyone has played that well to take my spot," Latendresse said after the game. "But I had to play a good game because if I wasn't playing at my top level it would open the door for other guys. I'm pretty confident with the way I've played since the start of camp."
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau, however, said he felt talk of Latendresse's spot being in jeopardy may have had a beneficial effect.
"You guys have been talking a lot about how hard the young guys are pushing," Carbonneau said. "Not that Guillaume is a grizzled veteran or anything, but maybe he felt that pressure from the young guys. I was never worried about him, because players with his size always need a few extra games to get ready."