BROSSARD, Que. — A concussion kept defenceman Noah Juulsen out of most of his first NHL training camp but at least he healed in time to get in a pre-season game with the Montreal Canadiens.
“They’re treating me well,” said Juulsen, who pencilled into the lineup for a game Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre, likely paired with veteran Alexei Emelin. “It’s a great feeling just getting back here.
“It’s not an ideal scenario, but I’ve got to go out and play my game.”
Nearly all the prospects were dispatched to their junior teams or sent to St. John’s of the AHL on the weekend, but Juulsen was kept on to get at least some camp experience.
The Canadiens’ first round draft choice, picked 26th overall in June from the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, was unable to take part in the team’s rookie camp, a week before main camp. He only started full skating with the team on Saturday.
“It’s pretty tough,” the Abbotsford, B.C., native said. “You watch the guys every day and you want to be out there.
“There’s a protocol you’ve got to go through and once you’re through that you do non-contact practices and then work your way into contact.”
Juulsen’s concussion history is murky, but the Canadiens don’t seem overly concerned. After rookie camp, he signed a three-year entry level contract.
He said it was not his first concussion, but didn’t want to get into how many he’s had. And he gave no details of what caused his latest one, other than that it occurred “off ice.”
“I’m good to go now and from here on forward everything’s going to be good,” he said, adding that he has been free of concussion symptoms for a couple of weeks.
Juulsen expects to return to Everett by the end of camp, but says he has learned plenty skating with the likes of P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov that he can use back in junior hockey. He got to see NHL players’ work habits and game preparation, and got a taste of the extra quickness he’ll need in pro hockey.
At six-foot-one, 170 pounds, he’ll also need to add some muscle, but some will that will come with age.
“I’m not the biggest guy yet but I think in a couple of years I will be,” he said.
Juulsen had 52 points, including nine goals, in 68 games last season with Everett, where he was a teammate of forward Nikita Scherbak, Montreal’s top pick in the 2014 draft. The Canadiens selected 26th overall two years in a row and both times took Silvertips.
Scherbak is to play in St. John’s this season.
A right-shot defenceman who can move the puck, Juulsen also hopes to make Canada’s team for the world junior championship in Finland in December. He attended the team’s camp in the summer.
“I played in two of the four games,” he said. “I felt really good in it. Hopefully everything goes well.”
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press