The Montreal Canadiens have traded Hamilton Bulldogs center Francis Lemieux to the Red Wings in return for Brett Engelhardt of the Grand Rapid Griffins.
Lemieux, who will turn 23 on February 22nd, joined the Bulldogs in 2005-2006. This year, in 33 games, he has six assists but no goals. He has reportedly complained about the ice time coach Don Lever has given him, and asked Bob Gainey for a trade.
Englehardt, the new 'Dogs member is a 27-year-old right wing, who has had 16 points in 42 games with the Grand Rapids this season. He formerly played for the Toronto Marlies, having more than 40 points in two consecutives seasons. Engelhardt (we will have to learn to pronounce it, right) has immediatly joined his new teammates the same day. Welcome aboard!
That is one trade—an AHL trade. What about the NHL?
In the big league, it is all about rumours and speculations—sometimes denied, sometimes ignored.
At the start of the season, Montreal and Calgary were rumoured to exchange Alexei Kovalev for Alex Tanguay. We all know what Kovalev's last season was made of, and Tanguay has been reported not to get along with Flames coach Mike Keenan. But since Kovalev has regained his tremendeous form, it seems no one talks about trading him anymore—what a coincidence!
Then, with Michael Ryder's struggles, the Tanguay discussion started again. If Ryder's future with the team is quite unsure, Tanguay does not want to hear anything about any trade-related story.
Some might think that despite his past two 30-goals seasons, Ryder is not enough for Tanguay (now with 43 points, and plus-12 rating in 55 games). Speculations are now sending both Ryder and rookie defenseman Ryan O'Byrne to Calgary.
Another team, other rumours.
Don Waddell (the Atlanta Trashers GM) was in Montreal for Sunday's game against the Senators. Waddell is currently trying to sign star Marian Hossa before the trade deadline, but since nothing is sure yet, he is reportedly "flying around" to do some prospecting.
What about Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder for Marian Hossa? Both are having hard times in Montreal right now, and although coach Guy Carbonneau is still expecting his Captain to get up, some would love to send Koivu to new horizons.
However, the latest rumours involve Chris Higgins. Montreal's new Assistant Captain would be sent to Atlanta, along with a draft pick, in return for Hossa.
Still, those are just rumours, and no one knows what GM Gainey's real projects to improve his team will be.
Coming back to real facts now, the Habs will face the Sens, Saturday.
Talking about Ottawa, they played Florida at the ScotiaBank arena on Thursday. A game that should be named "Heatley, the return". Indeed, to mark his comeback to the game, Dany Heatley scored twice and added an assist in a 5-4 win. Daniel Alfredsson is also expected to come back Saturday. Both players surely represent a threat to Carbonneau's team. Alfredsson has 77 points in 60 games against Montreal in carreer, while Heatley has 36 points in 28 games in carreer vs Habs.
The Habs lost 4-2 to the Leafs on Thursday. Coach Carbo expressed his issues about the defensive play. It seems the strong defensive machine had more lows than highs lately, leaving too much scoring chances to the other teams. One piece of the puzzle at the blue line, Roman Hamrlik, may still not play on Saturday. He has not been performing all week, due to a flu.
Cristobal Huet will be in the net.
So, Saturday: OTT vs MON. 7.00 pm
From Montreal, it's Friday night!