In a session with reporters on Tuesday prior to the Draft Combine in Buffalo, Hughes said the opening of free agency is a more important date for Price news than the Draft on July 7 when the Canadiens have the first pick.
“I don’t know that by the draft is necessarily critical … I think the only way we would have complete clarity on it is if somehow we learned he could not play,” Hughes said. “Otherwise, we have to go into the season and see how the knee responds once he’s back to the rigours of a regular-season schedule.
“But the draft itself probably not as critical as maybe July 13. Knowing his situation, if he’s not playing, we’d have LTIR we could use. Without that information, we don’t have the luxury of using it.”
Hughes said Price, 34, saw a specialist in Pittsburgh at the end of the season, but hasn’t seen other doctors to discuss his knee.
Price has four years remaining on a contract that counts annually for $10.5 million on the salary cap.
After his final game of the season, Price said he played through discomfort, that his knee swells “a lot” during game action, that “there’s different aspects of goaltending that’s required these days that is very difficult for me to do,” and that he’ll be seeking different opinions and staring down the possibility of more surgery without any assurances he’ll be able to return and play at the level of he expects of himself.
After exiting the player assistance program early in the season, Price suffered a physical setback before returning to play just five games on the campaign.