With Markov a long ways away, P.K. Subban's confidence lagging, Josh Gorges ailing, Hamrlik and Spacek aging, and Hal Gill... well being Hal Gill, the Canadiens made a move today to shore up their defense by acquiring James Wisniewski from the Isles for a pair of draft picks.
Still quite young at 26, the Habs get the third-leading scorer on the Islanders with 3 goals and 18 assists; 13 of those points coming on the power play. He came up with the Blackhawks before being traded to Anaheim and then Long Island. Last year he had a career best 30 points, so this year he's poised to post his best offensive season as a pro.
(Wisniewski scoring in 3rd period action against the Habs Dec. 26, 2010 -- Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
However, he's a minus 18 which should be tempered somewhat given he's coming from the Islanders, who have had many challenges keeping the puck out of their own net.
Small at 5'11 but built solidly, listed at 205 pounds, he's scheduled to join the Canadiens on Wednesday in Tampa Bay. He plays a gritty game, and yes, he is the same player who clocked Chicago's Brent Seabrook into the boards last year, receiving an 8 game suspension as a result.
New York received Montreal's second-round selection in 2011 and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2012.
It should be noted this was the Habs' compensatory second-round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (given to the Habs after they didn't sign former first-round pick David Fisher).
The deal with the Wiz, who makes $3,250,000, is he's set to go unrestricted next summer. He was on the list of unrestricted d-men at season's end who might be a good fit for a team looking to bolster their lineup. He was the one who stuck out the most for me as someone who could help the Habs best, so I'm pleased with this deal. The Habs need some fresh air and some help scoring goals. Whether he's resigned in the summer is secondary at this point.I'm a bit surprised as to why the Islanders would make this move now, given they probably could have squeezed out more for him from another team at the trade deadline in February. Doesn't seem like that much to get this guy, but let's see how things pan out.
In other NHL news, Darryl Sutter did the honourable thing today and fell on his sword, stepping down as the Calgary Flames GM. It's only a matter of time before his brother Brent does the same. Assistant GM Jay Feaster takes the helm.