BROSSARD, Que. - It is getting down to crunch time at the Montreal Canadiens camp.
The Canadiens made five cuts on Thursday, including defencemen Greg Pateryn and Davis Drewiske, to reduce the training camp roster to 28 players.
Forwards Sven Andrighetto, Jake Dowell and Gabriel Dumont were also sent to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, who are holding training camp in St. John's, N.L.
Among those who escaped the cuts were forwards Christian Thomas, Jacob de la Rose and Jiri Sekac, defencemen Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Darren Dietz and Francis Bouillon and goaltender Dustin Tokarski.
Montreal also agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with former Carolina forward Drayson Bowman, who was invited to join the Canadiens' camp on a professional tryout.
The survivors are expected to see action in pre-season games against the Ottawa Senators on Friday and Saturday nights. Teams have until Tuesday to get down to the 23-man roster limit.
It is likely that Beaulieu, who played in the post-season in the spring, will make the NHL club, but it may be between Tinordi and Bouillon for the job as the seventh defenceman on the depth chart.
The six-foot-six Tinordi has had an up-and-down camp, but coach Michel Therrien said he likes his physical play. If he is sent down, the team can turn to returning veteran Bouillon, who was invited to camp on a tryout.
"In Francis' case, it's not an audition," said Therrien. "We know exactly what we've got.
"After we make our evaluation of the young players, then we'll make a decision. We need to see if the young defencemen are ready to play in the NHL."
Bouillon, who turns 39 on Oct. 17, looked relieved to still be in camp.
"I know I'm in competition with the young guys, but the best I can do is show up on the ice and show that I can still play in this league," he said. "The rest I have no control over."
The big surprise was Dietz, a rushing defenceman who was limited to 34 games in Hamilton last season due to injuries. The Medicine Hat, Alta., native has been impressive in camp.
"I like his speed," said Therrien. "He's got poise with the puck.
"He can jump up in the play. We'll give him another chance to see what he's got."
"The goal is to make the hockey team and nothing is accomplished yet," said Dietz.
At forward, the speedy, five-foot-nine Thomas has made himself noticed in every pre-season game he's played.
There should be a spot open on right wing, and the son of former NHL winger Steve Thomas has made a good case, although he is up against gifted six-foot-two newcomer Sekac, who looks to have the edge so far. The 19-year-old De la Rose appears to be a long shot to crack the lineup.
"Everyone's goal here is to have a good camp and make the Canadiens and this just means I'm a step closer," said Thomas. "Hopefully I made a good impression with the staff and that it stays like that."
Therrien said Pateryn needs to adjust to the pace of play in the NHL, while Drewiske simply needs playing time after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.
In goal, the Canadiens are still undecided on whether to keep Peter Budaj, the incumbent back-up to Carey Price, or Tokarski, who was chosen over Budaj to play when Price was injured in the Eastern Conference final.