So as you have likely heard by now, the Montreal Canadiens reacquired defenseman Paul Mara from the Anaheim Ducks, in the wee hours of the night, for a fifth-round pick in 2012.
Mara, a free agent acquisition by the Habs in the summer of 2009, played a total of 43 games with the Habs last year before going under the knife for season ending shoulder surgery.
Mara had eight assists and was a minus-16 for the Habs when his season ended.
This season, playing with the Ducks, Mara had a mere two points (1G, 1A) and a minus-1 rating, over 33 games. In recent weeks, Mara had been a healthy scratch and with the Ducks reacquiring Francois Beauchemin from the Leafs this week, you knew something had to give.
Speaking with my good friend and cap expert Brian La Rose of Habsworld.net, he explained that:
"After this trade, the Habs have just below $2.8 million (full season cap hit) to spend. This number will increase by just under $600,000 when Brendon Nash is sent back to Hamilton, so Montreal should have enough space to make more of an impact acquisition."
Brian went on to say that:
"As for his contract status: $750,000 cap hit and salary, pending UFA at season's end. Montreal is responsible for just over $200,000 of that salary."
My concern with Mara is that he is on the wrong side of 30, has a history of injuries and is a career minus player—minus-112 in 715 career games. In addition, he is a lead-footed skater, adding yet another big but slow body to the Canadiens back end.
With the news that Jaroslav Spacek is injured, can't skate and didn't make the trip out West with the Canadiens, you knew that GM Pierre Gauthier would make some kind of move to bolster his back end. And while there were certainly better options out there than Mara, for a fifth-round draft pick, there were likely few that would have come cheaper.
With a pro-rated cap hit of $750,000 and as a UFA this coming summer, Mara still leaves the Habs with ample cap space to make other moves. And, if nothing else, at 6'4" and 211 lbs Mara does add size to the back end and should be a serviceable defenseman, but not much more.
This move signals the activation of Gauthier in the trade market with more moves surely to come before the February 28th deadline.
Habs Press release - Canadiens Acquire Paul Mara
Paul Mara player page on ESPN.com
Paul Mara cap information on CapGeek.com
Habs ongoing cap chart at Habsworld.net