Zach Redmond

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Habs waive Barberio, who could be a useful pickup

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Montreal continued to re-jig its blueline on Wednesday, placing Mark Barberio on waivers.

Barberio, 26, is in the first of a two-year deal that pays $750,000 annually. He’s split this season between the Habs and their minor-league affiliate in St. John’s, and was picked to represent the IceCaps at the AHL All-Star Game.

At the NHL level, Barberio’s appeared in 26 games this year, notching four assists while posting pretty solid possession metrics. He’s also averaging just over 15 minutes per night.

Given he’s relatively inexpensive and has pretty good experience for a 26-year-old — over 150 career games with Tampa Bay and Montreal — it’s possible he could get scooped up by a team looking for depth on the back end.

Of course, the Habs also recently placed another relatively young, relatively experienced d-man on waivers in Zach Redmond. Redmond, a 28-year-old with 130 games on his resume, cleared Monday and was dispatched to the minors.

The waiving of Barberio and Redmond came after Montreal acquired d-man Nikita Nesterov from Tampa Bay, and learned of Andrei Markov‘s return to health.

 

Habs get Markov and Desharnais back; Nesterov to make debut

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Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov will return from injury tonight at home to Buffalo. And to make his return even more worthy of watching, he’ll be paired with Nikita Nesterov, who will be making his Habs debut after Thursday’s trade with Tampa Bay.

Markov, 38, has not played since Dec. 17 due to a groin injury. The Canadiens went a modest 9-7-3 in the 19 games without him, and they went into the All-Star break by getting badly outplayed in a 3-1 loss to the resurgent Islanders.

With Markov coming off IR, the Canadiens yesterday placed defenseman Zach Redmond on waivers. Redmond cleared today and was assigned to AHL St. John’s.

Forward David Desharnais (knee) will also return tonight against the Sabres. He hasn’t played since Dec. 6.

Montreal holds a comfortable 7-point lead atop the Atlantic Division, but will want to get back on track after sliding into the break on a 4-5-1 stretch.

The Habs still have a couple of key injuries. Alex Galchenyuk (knee) may return Thursday, but Brendan Gallagher (hand) is out a while longer.

Canadiens place Zach Redmond on waivers

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After picking up Nikita Nesterov in a trade this past week, and with Andrei Markov on the verge of returning to the lineup, the Montreal Canadiens had a bit of a roster crunch on their blue line.

They started to address it on Monday by placing Zach Redmond on waivers.

Redmond, 28, has only appeared in 16 games for the Canadiens this season and recorded five assists in his limited action. He has also played two games for the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

After spending the past couple of seasons in Colorado, the Canadiens signed Redmond in free agency over the summer to a two-year contract that pays him just a little more than $600,000 per season.

The Nesterov trade was a solid gamble for the Canadiens to take and added a young, talented blue liner to the mix, while coach Michel Therrien said this weekend it is possible Markov could be returning to the lineup this week after being sidelined since the middle of December with a groin injury. With those two guys entering the lineup Redmond seems to have simply lost out on a numbers game. Even when he was in the lineup this season he was only averaging a little more than 12 minutes of ice-time per game, mostly playing on the team’s third pairing alongside either Mark Barberio or Nathan Beaulieu.

Canadiens won’t have Markov for first half of rough road trip

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On Monday, PHT discussed the tough rough ahead for the Montreal Canadiens. Now the light at the end of the tunnel feels a bit more distant.

The team announced that Andrei Markov won’t be available for their “next’ road trip, meeting away games on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. (He’s dealing with a groin injury that already sidelined him for three contests.)

Montreal’s probably wise – and reasonable – to compartmentalize the road ahead as two separate road trips, and Michel Therrien believes he could be available during the second half:

Ruled out

Wednesday (Dec. 28): at Lightning
Thursday (Dec. 29): at Panthers
Saturday (Dec. 31): at Penguins

Possibly available

Jan. 3: at Predators
Jan. 4: at Stars
Jan. 7: at Maple Leafs

As you can see, there’s a considerable gap between that road game against the Penguins and then the next set of dates starting on Jan. 3.

This doesn’t mean that Markov will be available next week, but this does give him an opportunity to heal up while the team plays a limited – but tough – slate of games.

At the moment, this is how the Habs’ defense looks:

Nathan BeaulieuShea Weber
Mark BarberioJeff Petry
Joel Hanley – Zach Redmond

Not ideal, especially since Montreal’s dealing with injuries to their forwards, too. They might need some Hart-quality work from Carey Price to wade through the next couple weeks.

A lesson learned: Habs vow to ignore the hype

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The Montreal Canadiens set a franchise record a year ago, starting the season with nine straight wins. They lost their 10th in Vancouver, which was no big deal. But the game after that, Carey Price got hurt, which was a huge deal. He got hurt again a month later, and that was it for the season.

The Habs would eventually collapse, finishing 38-38-6 and out of the playoffs.

Which is to say, a great start is good, but it’s all about how you finish.

“I think everything that we learned last year, everything that we went through, it’s given us a good understanding,” forward Brendan Gallagher said, per NHL.com. “I think last year everyone was saying so many good things about us, I think we started to believe it a little bit too much.”

The Canadiens, of course, are off to another torrid start, and it seems like nothing can go wrong. They’re 8-0-1 heading into tonight’s home game against Vancouver, the very same side that stopped their streak last year.

Though adversity may not come tonight against the Canucks, who’ve dropped five straight and have the NHL’s worst offense, it will come at some point this season, and the Habs will be tested in their pressure-packed market.

How they handle that adversity may very well determine the future of both head coach Michel Therrien and GM Marc Bergevin, the latter of whom acquired Shea Weber to not only play great hockey but also for “his attitude, his behavior, the little details that show he’s a real leader.”

So far, so good. But the season is still very young, just ask the Habs.

Related: In talking about Weber, Bergevin said plenty about Subban

In other news, the Canadiens sent 18-year-old defenseman Mikhail Sergachev back to his junior team yesterday. With Zach Redmond already sidelined with a broken foot, the club has been left with just six healthy defensemen on the roster, i.e. the bare minimum.

That’s led to speculation that Bergevin may be looking to add a top-4 d-man. Which sounds like a tough task at this point in the season, when all 30 teams are still technically in the playoff race. But perhaps Bergevin has had something in his back pocket all along, just in case Sergachev wasn’t NHL-ready.

We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Related: Habs send Sergachev back to junior