The Montreal Canadiens will have defenseman Alexei Emelin back in the lineup tonight for their Atlantic Division showdown in Tampa Bay.
Emelin has been out since getting hurt Feb. 18 in Ottawa. The 28-year-old is most likely to replace Greg Pateryn in the lineup, though nothing has been confirmed.
With a regulation win tonight, the Habs would move four points clear of the Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic, plus they’d still hold a game in hand. Obviously, a regulation loss would mean a tie in points.
The two teams play once more down the stretch, on March 30 in Montreal.
The Lighting have won all three of the meetings so far this season.
The Montreal Canadiens struck first on trade deadline day by acquiring defenseman Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a 2015 second-round selection and a conditional 2015 fifth-round pick.
That second pick will become a fourth rounder if Montreal wins its first-round series and a third-rounder if the Canadiens make it to the Eastern Conference Final, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.
Petry is being brought in after blueliner Alexei Emelin sustained a shoulder injury on Feb. 18 that might keep him on the sidelines for another couple weeks. Once Emelin`s healthy, Montreal will have a deep defensive group that also includes Sergei Gonchar and Tom Gilbert and is led by P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov.
Petry has four goals and 15 points in 59 contests and has logged 20:57 minutes per game with Edmonton in 2014-15. The 27-year-old has been used in both power play and penalty killing situations. He also ranks near the bottom of the league with a minus-25 rating and Edmonton`s Fenwick percentage is roughly the same when he`s on or off the ice.
He`s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The defenseman comes with a cap hit of just under $3.1 million annually.
Interesting nugget here from venerable NHL scribe and Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Matheson, per the Edmonton Journal:
The Canadiens covet [Edmonton d-man Jeff] Petry to play with Alexei Emelin on a second defence pair in the wide-open East, where there is no clear-cut Cup contender threat. They may not want to deal their two young defencemen, Nathan Beaulieu or Jared Tinordi, in any deal for Petry.
They reportedly have offered their 2013 first-round pick, winger Michael McCarron to the Coyotes for the shutdown D [Zbynek] Michalek.
The proposed move makes sense to a certain degree. McCarron, the 25th overall pick at the ’13 NHL Entry Draft, was a disappointment in his first year in the OHL (with London) and was cut from the U.S. Team for the 2015 World Juniors.
But McCarron is still only 19 years old and, with his tantalizing size (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) still has plenty of value as a prospect. That would seemingly fit with the direction Arizona has taken lately, as the club is shifting towards a youth movement and plans to ship out some veterans prior to, or at, Monday’s trade deadline.
(And if you consider the asking price for Andrej Sekera — who, granted, might not be just a rental for Los Angeles — a prospect could be the asking price for Michalek.)
One final thing to consider: Michalek has been sidelined recently with an upper-body injury, believed to be a concussion. That could greatly affect what teams are willing to spend on the 32-year-old, especially since he’s a pending UFA on July 1.