It’s no secret that the Montreal Canadiens have been decimated by injuries over the past few months. So much so that their initial trade deadline plans are all but thrown out the window and general manager Kent Hughes had to make a waiver claim just to have enough healthy players on the roster.
Given that the Laval Rocket are in the American Hockey League (AHL) playoff race and with six players already called up with the Habs, it’s important not to take away too many of the team’s assets during their pursuit of a postseason berth. That’s why the decision was made to pick up Chris Tierney to help out in a pinch while also giving the veteran centre the chance to extend his NHL career.
A Strong First Impression
The 28-year-old enjoyed quite the debut in a Montreal uniform on Feb. 24 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He scored his third goal of the season in his first period as a Hab and helped his new teammates earn a convincing 5-2 victory, their fifth win in eight games since returning from the All-Star Break, while playing on the fourth line alongside Alex Belzile and Michael Pezzetta.
The goal brings his career totals to 76 goals and 230 points in 576 games with the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, and now the Habs. He was a second-round pick of the Sharks in 2012 and spent four seasons in San Jose. His best year came in 2018-19 with Ottawa when he put up 48 points in 81 games and actually notched his first-career overtime goal as a member of the Senators against his former team, the Sharks.
Tierney recognized a few familiar faces when he walked into the Canadiens’ dressing room for the first time. He played with Evgenii Dadonov in Ottawa and played his junior hockey with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). During his time there, not only was he teammates with both Josh Anderson, who was a groomsman at his wedding last summer, and Christian Dvorak, but he also played in the 2013 Memorial Cup. The Knights, who also had Max Domi and Bo Horvat in their lineup that year, lost in the semifinals to the Portland Winterhawks. Habs prospect Logan Mailloux is also a London Knight.
A Piece in the Karlsson Trade
Tierney was part of the package that Ottawa received from the Sharks in exchange for star defenceman Erik Karlsson in 2018. The Senators also got Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Demelo, Josh Norris, and a 2020 unprotected first-round pick. The Keswick, Ontario native would go on to spend four seasons in Canada’s capital as a reliable bottom-six player who played in many situations.
Related: Canadiens Claiming Tierney is a Bad Sign for Dach and Monahan
Initially, many felt that the return in the Karlsson trade was underwhelming, but five years later, the Senators have to be thrilled with how the blockbuster deal turned out. Josh Norris is now a core piece, and the unprotected first-round pick was used to select Tim Stützle at no. 3 overall. A pretty good haul after all.
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Tierney signed a one-year deal with the Panthers as a free agent last summer, but the fit ended up not being the right one. He has spent the majority of the 2022-23 campaign in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers where he put up 16 points in 20 games. It was his second AHL stint after beginning his professional career with the Worcester Sharks in 2014-15. He produced at a point-per-game pace with 29 points in 29 games.
Tierney is the fourth player the Canadiens have claimed off waivers since the dawn of the Hughes and Jeff Gorton era just over a year as he joins the ranks of Rem Pitlick, Kale Clague, and Johnathan Kovacevic. While his time with the Habs may be short, he’ll still be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Pitlick and Kovacevic who have made the most of a change of scenery in Montreal playing for the most storied franchise in hockey.