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.)
Montreal defenseman Douglas Murray and forward Louis Leblanc will play their first games of the year tonight, according to various reports.
Murray, 33, has missed all 11 games this season due to an upper-body injury suffered in the preseason. The veteran Swede, who signed with the Habs as a depth defenseman in August, will be counted upon more than first thought with Alexei Emelin (knee) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) out of commission.
The Habs have also sent young defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi to AHL Hamilton, paving the way for Murray to jump right into the mix.
Leblanc, 22, will make his debut after a curious exhibition campaign.
The club’s first-round pick (18th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he was something of a surprise cut early in training camp, a decision that drew the ire of his girlfriend, Canadian tennis player Aleksandra Wozniak.
Wozniak took to Twitter to blast the Canadiens, calling it “the worst excuse ever,” adding “this is wrong!”
Shortly thereafter, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien defended the move to send Leblanc down.
“He came into camp with a good attitude and he was in better shape, but we know Louis Leblanc and we wanted to get to know some of the other players better,” Therrien said, per the Montreal Gazette.
Leblanc has fared well in Hamilton, scoring four goals and six points in seven games. He’s set to play on a line with David Desharnais and Rene Bourque.
There was a welcome sight after Montreal’s practice on Friday as three injured players — George Parros, Alexei Emelin and Douglas Murray — skated as a group, an important step in their eventual returns.
The most welcome sight was probably that of Parros, his first time out on the ice since suffering a scary concussion during Montreal’s season-opening loss to Toronto in a fight with Colton Orr.
“It’s going a lot better,” Coach Michel Therrien said of Parros, as per the Montreal Gazette. “I can’t say exactly if he’s symptom-free, but he’s reached another step in his recovery.”
Emelin, 27, is still recovering from torn knee ligaments in a collision with Boston’s Milan Lucic last April.
The Russian rearguard, who led the team in hits (110) last season, underwent surgery in May, at which time it was reported he’d be facing six months of recovery. Habs GM Marc Bergevin said Emelin would be out until at least December.
Murray, 33, was hurt right near the end of the preseason and is expected to be out until late October/early November.
He’s yet to make his Canadiens debut and is just one of the club’s banged-up blueliners. He, Emelin and Davis Drewiske — out 5-6 months after shoulder surgery — are all currently on the injured list.