The Montreal Canadiens have pulled the trigger on a deal to bolster the right side of their forward corps.
On Monday, the Habs swapped skilled – but little-used – defenceman Raphael Diaz for rough-hewn Vancouver Canucks right winger Dale Weise.
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin has been beating the trade bushes for more skill and more size, and now he’s found some of the latter – even if it’s at the expense of one of the few right-handed NHL-ready defencemen in the organization. The Winnipeg-born Weise is 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, and is a no-nonsense depth forward who will add a little bit of size to the Habs’ right side, currently populated by undersized players such as Brendan Gallagher and Brian Gionta.
It’s an open question how Weise, a career bottom-six forward who has 10 goals and 16 assists in 162 NHL games, will help address the Habs’ defensive frailties and problems scoring goals 5-on-5, but he should increase the team’s orneriness.
“[Weise] is a winger with a physical style of play who brings additional toughness and grit to our group of forwards,” Bergevin said in a statement issued by the team.
In 44 games this season, Weise has tallied three goals, nine assists, 65 hits and 42 penalty minutes – including four fighting majors. The 25-year-old earns $750,000 (U.S.) and will become a restricted free agent at season’s end.
The Swiss-born Diaz – who will represent his country at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – was signed as a free agent in 2011, and has 11 assists on the season. His arrival in Vancouver will bolster a Canucks defence corps that has been decimated by injury. Diaz is in the final year of a contract that pays him $1.25-million this season, and is slated for unrestricted free agency this summer.
His playing time has evaporated since the emergence of former first-round pick Nathan Beaulieu, who appears to have locked down a spot on the Habs’ third defensive pairing. It’s a somewhat surprising fall from grace for Diaz, who was placed on the top power-play unit last season when head coach Michel Therrien took over the team.
The 28-year-old Diaz isn’t exactly a defensive behemoth, but he is a slick puck-mover and should fit in nicely on the slumping Canucks blueline.
Both players have been in and out of their respective lineups this season; Weise last played on Jan. 31, and Diaz’s last game was Jan. 16. The situation for both men could change Thursday, when the Canucks visit the Bell Centre.