New Canadien Blair Betts in action last season vs. the New Jersey Devils.
Bruce Bennett, Getty Images Sport
• 12:45 pm update: The Canadiens have claimed penalty-kill specialist Blair Betts off waivers, and he’ll play in place of Andreas Enqvist (demoted to Hamilton) against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday at the Air Canada Centre. The Habs also placed defenceman Jeff Woywitka on waivers; if he’s not claimed, he’s expected to report to the Hamilton Bulldogs. And forwards Aaron Palushaj, Michael Blunden and Ian Schultz have been assigned to the Bulldogs.
A Flyers blogger is sad to see Betts go:
Any Flyers fan can tell you that the power play has been more bad than good over the years. But while the Flyers have been lousy on their own power plays, they have been fairly good at killing those of their opponents. A big reason for that has been Betts. He has anchored the fourth line for a couple of seasons now but really shined when the team was killing penalties. Betts had taken nearly half of the faceoffs when the Flyers were shorthanded. Even through the 2011 preseason Betts looked like he was relishing his role as the penalty killer. I’m a little surprised the Flyers decided to part ways with him.
Betts will make $700,000 this season.
Remember Pierre Gauthier’s nice $4 million salary cap cushion?
The signings of Chris Campoli and Betts plus the demotion of Engqvist bring that down to $1.8 million.
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The Betts signing means demotion for Andreas Engqvist, who did not have a good preseason.
A righthanded faceoff and PK specialist, Engqvist entered training camp with the inside track on winning the specialist role vacated by the departure of Jeff Halpern.
The team announcement:
Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced today that forward Blair Betts has been claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers, while forward Andreas Engqvist has been assigned to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.
Betts was held pointless in three preseason games with the Flyers, recording 3 shots on goal. In 75 games with the Flyers in 2010-11, the 31-year old centreman registered 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists). One of his goals was tallied on the penalty kill and two were game-winning goals. He added 8 penalty minutes and 51 shots on goal. Since 2001-02, Betts has amassed 78 points (41 goals, 37 assists) in 477 regular season games with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and Flyers.
The 6’03’’, 210 lbs forward was the Flames second round pick (33rd overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
In six preseason games with the Canadiens, Engqvist registered one assist. The 23-year old centreman recorded 3 shots on goal.
• • •
With one sleep until the regular-season opener, Pat Hickey asks:
“The Canadiens spent seven years convincing Alexei Yemelin that he should be playing hockey in North America, but now that he’s here the question is: Can they keep him here?”
• Hickey on the Yemelin dilemma