According to various sources on the Twitter machine (including CBC’s Elliotte Friedman and and RDS’ Renaud Lavoie), the Montreal Canadiens have acquired Petteri Nokelainen and Garrett Stafford from Phoenix in exchange for Brock Trotter and a 7th-round draft pick.
After a 1-4-2 start and fresh off an OT loss to the Leafs, many were expecting Montreal to swing a deal of, how should we put this, larger magnitude. The team is struggling and dealing with a myriad of injuries — it’s being reported Scott Gomez will be out a week, joining Jaroslav Spacek, Andrei Markov and Chris Campoli amongst the walking wounded — so it was no surprise see Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos tweeting that Montreal was working the phones to add lineup depth.
But Nokelainen? And Stafford?
The former is a center, and the Habs do need centers. Without Gomez they’re going David Desharnais-Tomas Plekanec-Lars Eller-Andreas Engqvist down the middle, so it’s clear to see why GM Pierre Gauthier wanted to add depth. But Nokelainen was only averaging around 11 minutes a game in Phoenix and spent last season with Jokerit of the Finnish league. There’s also this glowing analysis from the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts: “Since Petteri Nokelainen, Habs’ latest saviour, drafted 16th overall in ’04, he’s had major knee surgery, traded 4 times, bought out once.”
So yeah, he’s a stopgap solution at best.
Stafford, meanwhile, is a 31-year-old defenseman that’s played seven NHL contests. The best-case scenario (for him, anyway) is to become Montreal’s No. 7 blueliner until Spacek returns from his rib injury. But it’s most likely he’ll go straight to the AHL, where he’s logged close to 600 games over his career.
In closing, we’re somewhat skeptical this trade will solve