The Montreal Canadiens have apparently tired of waiting for 22-year-old forward Guillaume Latendresse to fulfill his considerable promise, dealing the former second-round pick to the Minnesota Wild.
In return, the Wild are sending underachieving 23-year-old winger Benoit Pouliot the other way. Pouliot is currently out of action with a wrist injury, although it's apparently a short-term problem that won't keep him out of action for more than a few more days.
Latendresse, a native of Ste. Catherine, Que., has struggled to establish himself in Jacques Martin's lineup this season, and has scored only twice in 23 games. He has 48 goals and 37 assists in 232 games, and is also a career minus-22.
Moments after learning of the trade, Latendresse told CKAC radio that he's relieved to be leaving Montreal, where he clearly felt confused as to what his role is supposed to be.
"When you come to the rink and see your name pencilled into the second line and you know that after two shifts you'll be back on the fourth line if you make a mistake, it's tough to deal with," said the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Latendresse.
Many of the criticisms levelled at Latendresse - lack of intensity for a big man, dubious work ethic, deficient skating - have also been said of Pouliot.
The Franco-Ontarian, who was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft (selected just before Habs goaltender Carey Price), has four points in 14 games so far this season, and has only played 65 NHL games, notching 9 goals and 9 assists and a career minus-1. It's expected the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Pouliot will be in Montreal on Tuesday. In the interim the Habs have called up winger Sergei Kostitsyn, who briefly threatened to walk out on the team last month, from their AHL affiliate in Hamilton. The 22-year-old Belarusian will likely suit up on Tuesday against Columbus at the Bell Centre.