Montreal Canadiens

Hamhuis, Vrbata will not sign extensions this summer

6 Comments

With many predicting the Vancouver Canucks will be hard-pressed to get back to the playoffs next season, will defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata be up for grabs at the 2016 trade deadline?

As of today, it’s certainly possible. GM Jim Benning has confirmed that both veterans — the former a 2014 Olympic gold-medal winner with Team Canada, the latter an NHL all-star last year — will enter next season as pending unrestricted free agents.

“We’re going to go into the season and see how it goes,” Benning said, per The Province. “We’ve touched base with their agents a little, but we’ll see how it plays out.”

The Canucks have other pending UFAs — Yannick Weber, Brandon Prust, and Matt Bartkowski — that could fetch them draft picks or prospects at the deadline. Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, and Nick Bonino could all theoretically be moved too. Such is the outlook in Vancouver that some are wondering if the Sedins should be traded.

As Benning said, it will all depend on “how it plays out.”

Video: Addition of Prust gives Canucks two willing fighters along with Dorsett

17 Comments

Brandon Prust is known to drop the gloves on occasion. So, too, is Derek Dorsett.

After Wednesday’s trade that sent Zack Kassian to the Montreal Canadiens and Prust to the Vancouver Canucks, it’s possible both Prust and Dorsett are on the same line when the 2015-16 season begins, and that could make things interesting for opposing teams as well as for fans, who will surely have to keep an eye on both players when they’re on the ice.

Dorsett, acquired by the Canucks at the 2014 NHL Draft, had 17 fighting majors this past season, according to hockeyfights.com. The 31-year-old Prust had 16. Last season, while playing on different teams, Dorsett and Prust combined for 309 penalty minutes.

“Prust is going to supply us the toughness for our young kids so they don’t get pushed around,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning told TSN 1040 radio on July 1.

The addition of Prust should help ease the burden Dorsett faced last year as Vancouver’s tough guy, a role he accepted while also playing regular minutes as a bottom-six forward and establishing career highs in assists and points.

Of course, given their penchant for fighting, it seems only natural they’ve had a disagreement between them in the past.

Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’

13 Comments

“My time in Vancouver, deep down I feel I could have given more and I think they knew that.”

If there was one quote that left Canucks fans shaking their heads yesterday, that was probably it. Zack Kassian admitted that he didn’t give it 100 percent.

It’s been suggested that Canucks management should take much of the blame for Kassian’s failure to develop into an impact player, on a team that desperately needed him to be one. But, ultimately, it’s up to the player to fulfill his own potential.

Now a member of the Montreal Canadiens, the 24-year-old is vowing to apply the lessons he learned in both Buffalo, which drafted him 13th overall in 2009, and Vancouver, which traded Cody Hodgson to get him in 2012.

“It’s a tough league. As you grow older, you mature,” Kassian said Thursday.

“I really feel like Montreal’s a great fit for me. I’m ready to do everything to help the team win. I’m excited to get there. At the end of the day, nobody wants to get traded two times. But it’s a learning curve.”

For the record, Kassian says his back is fine: “Everything’s good, very healthy.”

He also rejected the notion that he’s been miscast as a big, tough power forward: “I can play physical, I can grind it, I like the cycle game. But at the same time, I like to make plays. I like to score goals. I think when I’m at my best, I can kind of do both.”

The Canadiens did not take a huge gamble on Kassian. They gave up popular forward Brandon Prust, but he’s 31 and only a year away from unrestricted free agency. Kassian is the one with the upside. And besides, the Canucks threw in a fifth-round draft pick. 

“There’s a reason why players are available, but I’ve talked to the young man and we’ve done our homework,” Habs GM Marc Bergevin said“We believe that he has potential.”

Of course, that’s what they said in Buffalo and Vancouver.

We’ll see what happens in Montreal.

It may be Kassian’s last chance.

Habs sign Barberio to a one-year, two-way deal

2 Comments

The Montreal Canadiens have signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Mark Barberio to a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced.

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the deal is worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $325,000 in the American Hockey League.

Barberio became an unrestricted free agent earlier in the week after the Tampa Bay Lightning elected not to tender the 25-year-old a qualifying offer.

“I’m not going to say it was disappointing. It’s time to get a fresh start somewhere else,” Barberio’s agent Paul Hamel told PHT on Monday. “It could go either way so at this point, they decided not to make a qualifying offer so we just need to move on.”

Barberio appeared in 103 games with Tampa scoring six goals and 11 assists while averaging 15:42 in time on ice.

The Montreal native was originally a sixth-round pick (152nd overall) by Tampa at the 2008 NHL Draft.

The Habs have also signed free agent forward George Holloway to a one-year, two-way contract.

The 27-year-old played 42 games with Bern in Swiss National League A in 2014-15, scoring 13 goals and 37 points.

Holloway was originally a third-round pick of the L.A. Kings (86th overall) at the 2006 NHL Draft.

Kassian traded to Habs for Prust; Hodgson signs with Preds

17 Comments

The Vancouver Canucks have given up on Zack Kassian. The Montreal Canadiens will give him a chance.

Kassian was traded to the Habs today, along with a fifth-round pick in 2016. The 24-year-old winger, who came to Vancouver in the 2012 Cody Hodgson swap, never turned into the power forward the Canucks envisioned he could be. His stint with the club was a controversial one, marked by suspensions, punitive AHL demotions, and the odd hot streak. Some felt he was never given enough of an opportunity; others disagreed.

“I need to find consistency,” Kassian told TSN. “This summer, I’m really taking strides forward. I want to have a big year. I’ve matured a lot as a person and a player.”

Heading to the Canucks is gritty forward Brandon Prust. Prust is 31 years old. He’s signed for one more year at $2.5 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.

In an odd twist, Hodgson has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Predators, who will hope to rejuvenate a career that went south in Buffalo. The 25-year-old center was just bought out by the Sabres. In Nashville, the top two centers, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, are each 35 years old, so rolling the dice on Hodgson makes sense.

Related: Ribeiro re-signs with Preds — two years, $7 million