The Montreal Canadiens have acquired veteran defenseman Mike Weaver from Florida, according to multiple reports.
In exchange, Florida received a fifth round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Weaver, 35, has spent the last four years in Florida, serving in a stay-at-home defensive role while averaging close to 20 minutes per night. He leads the team in blocked shots (94) this season and been reasonably durable, appearing in all 82 games during the 2010-11 and ’11-12 campaigns.
Weaver’s also relatively affordable, currently in the last of a two-year deal with a $1.1 million cap hit.
The interesting angle, though, is that Montreal added a defenseman. The Habs currently have seven on NHL contracts — Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, P.K. Subban, Alexei Emelin, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray and Jarred Tinordi — with prospect Nathan Beaulieu having been shuttled up and down between Montreal and AHL Hamilton throughout the year.
What’s more, Davis Drewiske is back in the mix (recently waived so he could go to Hamilton and rehab his shoulder) and the club recently flipped Swiss blueliner Raphael Diaz to Vancouver in exchange for fourth-line forward Dale Weise.
As such, the Weaver addition could be a precursor to another move… or, perhaps GM Marc Bergevin just wanted to ensure his club had blueline depth heading into the postseason.
The Canadiens’ oldest defenseman needs a rest, and their third-oldest needs a game.
That’s the story out of Montreal on Friday as head coach Michel Therrien announced 38-year-old Francis Bouillon will be a healthy scratch against Washington, keeping him from having to play in a back-to-back situation (the Habs host Pittsburgh tomorrow).
It’s the first game Bouillon has missed all season and, in his place, 33-year-old Douglas Murray will play his first game in a week.
“We have seven healthy defencemen and I don’t want to leave a guy like Douglas Murray off the ice too long,” Therrien explained, as per the Montreal Gazette. “It’s a discussion we’ve had since (Alexei) Emelin returned to the lineup.
“At 38 years of age, we have to keep in mind that the season is a long one. Bouillon will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
With the blueline finally healthy (save Davis Drewiske, out for a few more months after shoulder surgery), Montreal now has seven bonafide NHL defensemen under contract — Bouillon, Murray, Emelin, P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Raphael Diaz and Josh Gorges. That’s not including youngsters Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi, both of whom started the season in Montreal but have since been dispatched to AHL Hamilton.
The trick, it seems, is finding the right combination on a consistent basis. The Habs have been erratic of late, alternating wins and losses over their last six games. The hope is the club can build on Tuesday’s 6-2 whitewashing of Minnesota, a game in which Markov and Subban combined for three points.
It’s been a good last few days for Alexei Emelin.
The Montreal defenseman, who signed a four-year, $16.4 million extension with the club on Thursday, has been cleared for contact after undergoing major offseason knee surgery, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Emelin is currently on injured reserve and hasn’t played in a single game this year. The 27-year-old had 12 points in 38 games last season while averaging 19:40 of ice time per game.
He practiced withe teammates on Monday and skated on a fourth defensive pairing, suggesting a possible return for Tuesday’s home game against St. Louis was unlikely. Emelin could, however, rejoin the team for Thursday’s game against rivals Ottawa — and if he does, Montreal will receive a huge boost.
The Habs are already without defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and only recently got Douglas Murray back into the lineup after he missed weeks with an upper-body ailment. Once Emelin returns, Montreal will be able to finally ice its top-six defense of Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Josh Gorges, Raphael Diaz, Emelin and Murray (with Francis Bouillon also in the mix.)