Canadiens Trade Desharnais to Oilers for Davidson

The Edmonton Oilers have traded defenseman Brandon Davidson to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward David Desharnais, the Canadiens announced Tuesday night. The Montreal Canadiens made Desharnais a healthy scratch Tuesday night as they took on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canadiens are also retaining 20% of Desharnais’ $3.5 million cap-hit.

Desharnais has struggled this season and has been held out of the Canadiens lineup on multiple occasions. He’s played in just 31 games this season with Montreal, scoring four goals and 10 points. For the Oilers, Desharnais gives the team some depth down the middle as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since they competed in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

The Oilers already have some top centers on their team, including Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The team uses Draisaitl as a right winger on their first line, however, leaving Mark Letestu as the team’s third-line centerman. While it’s unclear where Desharnais will slot into the lineup, it’s likely to come down the middle on the team’s third or fourth line. Desharnais comes to the Oilers at the end of his contract and will become a free agent on July 1.

Desharnais Starting Fresh

In his career, Desharnais has played in 435 games, scoring 79 goals and 250 points in that time. His best season came during the 2011-12 campaign when the 30-year-old scored 16 goals, and a career-high 44 assists and 60 points. At 5 foot 7 and 174 pounds, Desharnais is certainly one of the smaller players in the NHL. Still, his compete level is unquestionable and he will bring energy to the Oilers lineup.

“I would like to thank David for all his years as a Montreal Canadien. He developed and matured within our organization providing valuable services. We wish him the utmost success with the continuation of his career,” Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin said.

Canadiens Revamping Defense

The Montreal Canadiens are making another move involving a defenseman this season after recently acquiring defenseman Nikita Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning in January and trading away Greg Pateryn to acquire Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars on Monday. The Canadiens remain in first place in the Atlantic Division, but with the rest of the division surging as of late, the team is making moves to maintain their top spot while fighting for a playoff position.

By adding Davidson, the Canadiens have added another defenseman to another loaded blueline that now includes Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, Benn, Nesterov and of course, Shea Weber. Davidson was a sixth-round draft selection of the Oilers in 2010. The 25-year-old is a left-shot defender who isn’t afraid to use his size to help his teammates. While he hasn’t been much of an offensive contributor in the NHL and AHL levels, offense was a legitimate part of Davidson’s game in the WHL and ECHL. In 210 WHL games with the Regina Pats, Davidson scored 22 goals and 135 points.

In the NHL, however, Davidson has only scored five goals and 13 points in 91 games. Still, at just 25-years-old, Davidson still looks like he could become a solid mainstay on an NHL blueline for years to come. The deal, however, may not be entirely about a one-for-one swap, but more of a move to clear up cap space by the Canadiens for a potentially bigger move.

More to Come?

Despite retaining cap space, the Canadiens have actually cleared up some cap space and now have $1.16 million in available cap space. Based on money left to be paid on the year, the Canadiens have the equivalent of $5.22 million cap space, per Cap Friendly – leaving them room to explore bigger options ahead of the deadline.

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