Gionta, Gorges headed to Sabres; Habs sign Malhotra, Weaver and others

The Canadiens will be looking for a new captain for the 2014-15 season.

After failing to reach a contract agreement with Brian Gionta before the Canada Day free-agent sweepstakes began at noon Tuesday, the former Habs captain signed a three-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres worth $4.25 million per season later in the afternoon. Gionta will be joined in Buffalo by Josh Gorges after the Canadiens traded the defenceman to the Sabres in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2016. Gorges has four years remaining on a six-year, $23.4-million contact with a $3.9-million cap hit each year.

Shortly after noon, the Canadiens signed free-agent Manny Malhotra to a one-year, $850,000 deal. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound centre posted 7-6-13 totals in 69 games last season with the Carolina Hurricanes. He averaged 11:35 of ice time per game and won 59.4 per cent of his faceoffs. In 933 careeer games, the 34-year-old has posted 115-176-291 totals.

“It’s an opportunity to win,” Malhotra said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “To say it’s a great hockey market is a gross understatement.”

Malhotra added: “This team is the best fit for me hockey-wise and family-wise.”

The Canadiens later re-signed free-agent defenceman Mike Weaver to a one-year, $1.75-million deal. Weaver played 17 games with the Canadiens last season after being acquired from the Florida Panthers at the NHL trade deadline, posting 1-6-7 totals and a plus-9.

After the signing was announced, Weaver tweeted: “Fier d’être de retour! We had the contract signed for a few weeks! Just wanted to keep everyone in suspense!”

The Canadiens announced a couple more free-agent signings Tuesday, inking forward Jiri Sekac to a two-year entry-level contract and defenceman Tom Gilbert to a two-year deal worth $5.6 million.

Sekac, a 6-foot, 174-pounder, played 47 games last season with Lev Praha in the KHL, posting 11-17-28 totals. Gilbert, a 6-foot-3, 206-pounder, posted 3-25-28 totals with 18 penalty minutes last season with the Panthers.

“When you visit Montreal and you see the way the fans are excited game in and game out, it makes playing there exciting,” Gilbert said on a conference call.

“Manny touched on it with where he is in his career,” Gilbert added. “I’m looking for what everyone is looking for: a chance to win the Cup.”

The 35-year-old Gionta spent five seasons with the Canadiens after signing a five-year, $25-million free-agent contract during the summer of 2009. In 81 regular-season games last season, Gionta posted 18-22-40 totals. In 17 playoff games, Gionta scored one goal and added six assists.

“I was never looking to break the bank (with the Habs),” Gionta told The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs Tuesday morning after contract talks with the club broke down. “My time for that is past.

“It will be about the family now that Montreal window is closed,” Gionta added.

Gorges, who spent eight years with the Canadiens after being acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks, played in 66 regular-season games last season, posting 1-13-14 totals and a plus-6. He spoke with Sportsnet shortly after the trade to Buffalo was announced.

“It’s tough,” Gorges said. “I mean, you never really expect to get traded … you never think that this day is going to come. I mean, obviously, it comes for everybody and it’s happened to me once before. But when that phone call does come that day you’re not prepared for it. So it’s tough when you first hear the news, and especially because I’ve really loved every moment that I’ve had here in Montreal. It’s become my home over the last eight years and I’ve made a lot of good friends in this city and on this team and that’s the hardest part … knowing that you have to say bye to all that and move forward. But that’s the nature of the beast and part of the business that we’re involved in. So you deal with it and you move on. And like I said, I’m excited about the opportunity to go to Buffalo and help that team out.”

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin had tried to trade Gorges to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the defenceman nixed that as part of a limited no-trade clause in his contract. Gorges told Sportsnet that after playing with the Canadiens for such a long time it would have been hard to “switch over and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

“Nothing against that organization or that team,” Gorges said. “But when you build a rivalry it’s hard mentally, emotionally to think, ‘Wow, I’ve grown to hate this team, to play against them, how could I ever really go and put my heart and soul into it?’ And so I just wanted to take some time before I made a decision.”

In an interview with The Gazette’s Stubbs, Gorges was asked who his pick would be to be the next Habs captain.

“Everyone watches how (Andrei Markov) trains, prepares and plays,” Gorges said. “That’s what you want from your leader.”

When Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the media Tuesday afternoon in Brossard he was asked about a future captain. Bergevin said if he did have someone in mind he wouldn’t say now and added that it was too early to make that decision. How that captain will be picked will remain “in house” Bergevin said.

When asked if he had a date by which he wanted to have restricted free-agent defenceman P.K. Subban signed, Bergevin said “no.” When The Gazette’s Pat Hickey suggested Oct. 1 as the date, Bergevin responded “that would be nice,” drawing chuckles from the media.

The Canadiens didn’t make a qualifying offer for forward Ryan White, meaning he now becomes an unrestricted free agent.

“Ryan was really good for us,”  Bergevin told the media in Brossard. “I have a lot of respect for the way he played. But sometimes the teacher needs new students and the student needs a new teacher. So maybe a change of scenery will help him out. Again, I have a lot of respect for Ryan, but we made a decision to go with Manny Malhotra.”

Thomas Vanek, acquired by the Canadiens at last season’s NHL trade deadline, signed a three-year free-agent deal with the Minnesota Wild worth $19.5 million. Vanek turned down a seven-year, $50-million offer from the Islanders last season before he was traded to Montreal.

Bergevin also announced that the club has signed junior forward Jeremy Grégoire to a three-year, NHL entry-level contract. In 65 regular-season games with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL last season, the 6-foot, 187-pound forward posted 35-34-69 totals. The Canadiens selected him in the sixth round (176th overall) at the 2013 NHL draft.

Bergevin also signed free-agent goalie Joey MacDonald to a one-year, two-way contract on Tuesday. In 11 games with the Calgary Flames last season, MacDonald posted a 5-4-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage.

(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)

Habs add size and experience in free-agent frenzy, by The Gazette’s Pat Hickey

Gionta leaves Habs with a heavy heart, by The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs

Mixed emotions as Gorges heads to Buffalo, by Dave Stubbs

Habs sign free-agent Malhotra, canadiens.com

Bergevin press conference (video), canadiens.com

Canadiens’ salary-cap chart, capgeek.com

Gionta signs three-year deal with Sabres, buffalosabres.com

Sabres acquire Gorges, buffalosabres.com

Free-agent signings tracker, NHL.com

Official list of available free agents, NHL.com

Wild signs Vanek for three years, NHL.com

Former Hab Cammalleri signs five-year, $25-million deal with Devils, NHL.com

Senators trade Spezza to Stars, NHL.com

Avalanche signs Iginla to three-year, $16-million deal, NHL.com

3,131 Comments

  1. habsfaninboston says:

    Tom Gilbert?

  2. PK says:

    Gotta enjoy having a Habs GM that has a vision and is not afraid of making some moves …

    >>>> Les Canadiens sont là
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    “Une équipe de hockey sur glace de l’île de Mont-Royal va gagner la Coupe de Lord Stanley à 24 reprises dans le 20e siècle et trois fois au cours du 21e siècle.”

    – Nostradamus, 1552

  3. BJ says:

    Tom Gilbert to the Habs

  4. Hobie says:

    Gorges gone = more $$$$ for today!

  5. NightRyder says:

    I love that when I went to Tom Gilbert’s hockeydb page I got a message that said “too many connections.”

  6. Paz says:

    Oilers are like the guy at the party who pays 30 bucks for a large pizza.

    They just don’t get it.

    • Chris says:

      It’s pretty much equivalent to Ryder when he left Montreal. Ryder was a better player coming off a terrible year, but he still got $4 million.

      Pouliot doesn’t have the same pedigree, but it is a much higher cap. He gives them a winger that can score if put in the right situation. Fayne is the better pick-up, in my opinion…he is an underrated defenceman.

      • Paz says:

        Pouliot seems unstable to me. Maybe that’s totally unfair of me to say that, but his actions on the ice are very strange.

        I would have never given him term. Ever.

  7. frontenac1 says:

    Squid gets 5yr $25mill??? Wtf!

  8. habsfaninboston says:

    Stastny to Blues. A good team just got better.

  9. Psycho29 says:

    Pierre LeBrun‏@Real_ESPNLeBrun·7 secs ·

    Blues sign Paul Stastny, four years x $7 M AAV

  10. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Is it possible we really over-rated Gorges or is it just a pure salary dump OR there is something else going on here.

    Don’t be surprised to see Gionta in Buffalo now.

  11. UKRAINIANhab says:

    A 2nd round pick for Josh Gorges…

    Cmon Marc….

  12. adamkennelly says:

    I’d like to thank Gorges for f-ng Toronto on his way out. Says no to TO and goes to Buffalo – 2nd rounder is pretty good haul too…time to sign Boyle…

    this is fun!

  13. Thurston says:

    The pick we got for Gorges was originally Minnesota’s. Just an FYI…

  14. habsfaninboston says:

    All we got is a 2nd for JG? Not good.

    • Grimmly says:

      for a bad contract its a good deal

    • Strummer says:

      Very good- got rid of a 3rd pairing defenseman eating $4 million in salary cap and got a second rounder to boot.

      ____________________________________________________
      “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

  15. slapshot777 says:

    I wouldn’t have thought Buffalo would have been one of the teams on Gorges list

  16. CharlieHodgeFan says:

    Very sorry to see Gionta go.
    Very happy to see Gionta gone.

    It’s tough when good player get too old, but you have to deal with it.

  17. on2ndthought says:

    Time for an overhaul of the ‘leadership’ in the habs dressing room. It’s fine for Gio or Gorges to talk, but players will be following PK, Gally and Chucky on the ice, it will soon be time they got the letters.

    “a cannonading drive”

  18. NightRyder says:

    Gorges will do well in Buffalo. Tons of young players to live in his house, very few good defencemen to take away his playing time – perfect storm.

  19. kalevine says:

    Is Malhotra really blind in one eye? In all seriousness, doesn’t that make it harder to avoid a hit or, for that matter, to dish one out?

  20. Grimmly says:

    Gorges just got dumped on Buffalo cause he didnt want to go to TO, kind of a slap in the face but i love having a GM that has balls

  21. BJ says:

    Gorges to Buffalo for a 2nd

    • PK says:

      Dare I say this aloud?
      Would Leafs have been a better choice for Gorges rather than landing in Buffalo?

      >>>> Les Canadiens sont là
      _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

      “Une équipe de hockey sur glace de l’île de Mont-Royal va gagner la Coupe de Lord Stanley à 24 reprises dans le 20e siècle et trois fois au cours du 21e siècle.”

      – Nostradamus, 1552

  22. HabinBurlington says:

    Okay, now lets sign Konopka!

  23. Strummer says:

    $4 million a year for Pouliot?
    Who do they think he is? Josh Gorges?

    ____________________________________________________
    “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

  24. Timo says:

    Renaud Lavoie: Habs got a second round pick in 2016 from Sabres for Gorges. Wow. That was brutal.

  25. chilli says:

    Oh Oilers.
    Poops wasn’t even a starter this year for the Rangers until the playoffs. He played in the playoffs but no team that has ever had him wanted him beyond a year.

    Great for him though. Nice kid. He can rest easy now with a long contract – his job is done.

    Tre

  26. Harditya says:

    Gorges to Buffalo.. wow!

  27. Habcouver says:

    Thanks for being a Hab, Josh. Good luck in Barfalo.

    We Are (Not) All Canucks.
    Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  28. Un Canadien errant says:

    Holy crap, Josh Gorges to Buffalo? I can’t believe we get anything back from the Sabres, this will be a salary dump right?

    ———————————————————————–
    My sources are unreliable, but their info is fascinating.–Woody Paige

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  29. Thurston says:

    See you, Josh.

    Canadiens Montréal ‏@CanadiensMTL 50s
    Canadiens acquire a second round pick in 2016 from the Sabres in return for Josh Gorges.

  30. JUST ME says:

    Gorges to Sabres ?

  31. frontenac1 says:

    Josh to Sabres.

  32. habsfan0 says:

    Gorges to Buffalo???
    Must be a Bills fan.

  33. HabFab says:

    Canadiens Montréal ✔ @CanadiensMTL

    Canadiens acquire a second round pick in 2016 from the Sabres in return for Josh Gorges. DETAILS -> http://goha.bs/1mhjWf2

  34. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Gorges to Buffalo????

  35. NightRyder says:

    Oilers attempting to overpay every middling free agent they can.

  36. Mr. Biter says:

    Where’s some beef?

    Mr. Biter
    No Guts No Glory

  37. HardHabits says:

    The Plekanec effect?

    Czechs and Russians as Habs is OK by me. They play exciting hockey. Add some size and grit with that speed and skill and you got a recipe for success.

  38. Un Canadien errant says:

    Is it foreshadowing that Benoit Pouliot is only coming through intermittently on his phone interview with James Duthie? He’s there, but he fades away, then he’s back, then he cuts out again…

    ———————————————————————–
    My sources are unreliable, but their info is fascinating.–Woody Paige

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  39. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Pouliot just gave one of the most BS answers to the question: “Why Edmonton”. C’mon…4 years 20 million…that is all.

  40. Puck Bard says:

    Pouliot: At $20M this was not the experience those Oiler kids needed in the dressing room. Quelles Boffoons

  41. CharlieHodgeFan says:

    Pouliot may never reach his hockey potential, but his earnings potential is a great success.

    What a dumb move by Edmonton.

    • Strummer says:

      Desperate times call for desperate measures.

      ____________________________________________________
      “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

  42. Ozmodiar says:

    My wishlist for the forward group has been taken care of in short order. :)

    From the other day (before Briere trade):

    The forward re-org is more straightforward. Here’s my wishlist*:
    1. move Briere, buyout if necessary
    2. sign RW – Iggy (Vrbata)
    3. sign 4th line C – Goc (Moore, Boyle, McClement)

  43. krob1000 says:

    michalek stayed put…

  44. Strummer says:

    Gionta on the free agent market,
    “Oh joy, oh rapture!!”

    ____________________________________________________
    “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

  45. habsfan0 says:

    Vanek not signed by the Wild as yet.
    Or,anybody else.
    Hmmm..

    • Strummer says:

      10 teams interested, won’t be long

      ____________________________________________________
      “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

  46. monmick says:

    Manny Malholtra speaks French; for those who didn’t know. I guess that is important. Both parents studied at Laval; mom is French-Canadian…

    ~~~> Mathematically eliminated…

  47. adamkennelly says:

    how bout trading JG to EDM for Luke Gadzic and a 4th rounder?

  48. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    If I am an Edmonton fan, i don’t know whether to shoot myself or hang myself…LOL

    • Strummer says:

      You could always do a walk-about in January and freeze to death

      ____________________________________________________
      “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

  49. Mike D says:

    I can’t believe the Oil signed PouPou to a 5 year deal AND gave him 4mil per year. That’s insane. No wonder they’re perpetually a bottom-feeder.

    - Honestly yours
    Twitter: @de_benny

    • HabinBurlington says:

      I’ve been impressed with Pouliot this past season, perhaps he is finally over whatever it was that ailed him in Minny and Montreal. I do wonder about the term Oilers gave though.

      Happy for Benny, I really hoped it had worked out with Montreal, big body, fast skater with skill and could chuck ‘em.

      • Mike D says:

        I agree he looked much better with NYR, Burly. But to me, giving him a 5 year deal with that much money is overboard for all the years of floating and sucking, lol.

        - Honestly yours
        Twitter: @de_benny

      • Strummer says:

        Zero pressure with the Oilers. Might work for him,

        ____________________________________________________
        “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

    • JUST ME says:

      You sometimes wonder if these guys ever look at other teams players…we know that in edmonton it`s optionnal..Pouliot is laughing his way to the bank but the Oilers keep on being mediocre.

  50. PK says:

    Malhotra is an upgrade on the fourth line.
    Character guy, good on face-offs.
    He has made a good comeback after that eye injury a few years ago. Good signing.

    >>>> Les Canadiens sont là
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    “Une équipe de hockey sur glace de l’île de Mont-Royal va gagner la Coupe de Lord Stanley à 24 reprises dans le 20e siècle et trois fois au cours du 21e siècle.”

    – Nostradamus, 1552

  51. Mike D says:

    No idea who this guy is, but it sounds like good news:

    Bob McKenzie ‏@TSNBobMcKenzie ·4 mins
    Nothing official yet but I believe MTL a likely winner in Jiri Sekac UFA sweepstakes. Much sought after 22-year-old winger in KHL last year.

    - Honestly yours
    Twitter: @de_benny

  52. Mike D says:

    Great to finally have a F.O. specialist so I guess I’m please with the Malhotra signing, and also good that he is a bigger body…..
    That said, we’re gonna be short on toughness next year, and let’s not forget White was pretty good at FO’s and improving, a righty, PLUS he played a tough game.

    Not sure I really see this as an upgrade but I’ll give MM a chance to prove me wrong.

    - Honestly yours
    Twitter: @de_benny

  53. Arnou Ruelle says:

    https://twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie/status/484007266882826240

    From Bob Mckenzie via Twitter:

    “Nothing official yet but I believe MTL a likely winner in Jiri Sekac UFA sweepstakes. Much sought after 22-year-old winger in KHL last year.”

    Any stats on this guy?

  54. BJ says:

    For Timo. Bouillon is on the market and will not resign with the Habs.

  55. habsr4ever says:

    Great signing…..yup upgrade from White AND leadership.
    Leftie centre though vs white as a rightie…..not much more of a goal scorer but one of the best faceoff guys in the league…..WAS at least – still solid….big who can skate above average…I love it….BUT we better not be done today.
    oilers just did a stupid signing with pouliot….he is a flake who takes stupid penalties….great signing on fayne though….wish the habs would have signed him…sheesh….

  56. Thurston says:

    Bob McKenzie ‏@TSNBobMcKenzie 1m
    Nothing official yet but I believe MTL a likely winner in Jiri Sekac UFA sweepstakes. Much sought after 22-year-old winger in KHL last year.

  57. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    The Malhotra signing is an example on how to properly use your salary cap space. Next, Iginla please.

  58. HabFab says:

    Bob McKenzie -

    Nothing official yet but I believe MTL a likely winner in Jiri Sekac UFA sweepstakes. Much sought after 22-year-old winger in KHL last year.

  59. UKRAINIANhab says:

    Pouliout 4 year 20 million…

    HUH

  60. NightRyder says:

    Benny Pouliot just got $20M!!!

  61. JohnInTruro says:

    Malholtra 6’2 220lbs
    69 games 7g 6a last year.

  62. durocher says:

    MM was 59.4% on draws last season

  63. UKRAINIANhab says:

    Manny…

    Manny…

    Ok then?

  64. habsfan0 says:

    So,what number does Malhotra get to wear with the Habs?
    #22 is already taken.

  65. Habcouver says:

    Mo is a class act.
    Great signing: cheap and short term.

    We Are (Not) All Canucks.
    Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  66. Timo says:

    WOW!!! Malholtra!! What a move by MB.

  67. stephen says:

    At first blush, I like the Malhotra signing.

    Great 4th line centre, and most importantly, great on faceoffs!

  68. NightRyder says:

    Manny Malhotra is our new fourth-line centre. Defensive-zone faceoffs are no longer Plekanec’s problem. Manny couldn’t score if his other eye depended on it, but he will help defensively.
    AND, guess what? He’s great in the room! For less than a mill.
    Sorry, Josh-lovers.

  69. slapshot777 says:

    How many centres do we have now. What about Stastny?

    To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high.

  70. scuba says:

    Malholtra for White is fine I guess

  71. HardHabits says:

    *crickets*

  72. Steven says:

    Malholtra to the Habs. 850k

  73. JohnInTruro says:

    Manny Mo, I like it!

  74. The Jackal says:

    CJ likes this news

    ______________________
    Hockey sine stercore tauri.

  75. Timo says:

    First!

    Edit: damn, that felt good.


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