Here comes the first shakeup in Montreal, and the first domino in terms of unrestricted free agents getting dealt before the March 4 trade deadline.
The Thrashers traded defenceman Mathieu Schneider to the Canadiens today in exchange for second and third round picks. Schneider, 39, really struggled to start the season in Atlanta and was minus-17 in the team's first 30 games, but has been solid since mid-January and is plus-7 with seven points in his last 14 games.
He may be on the downswing of his career, but Schneider will help the Habs' power play and take some pressure off of defencemen like Josh Gorges and MIke Komisarek, who have struggled during the team's recent slump. The price is a little high (although there's a conditional third- to fifth-round pick going Montreal's way), and Schneider has a big price tag at $5.625-million, but GM Bob Gainey's not going to throw in the towel on the season quite yet. (Nor should he given the parity in this league.)
Schneider's also an underrated leader and someone who has played in the pressure cooker that is Montreal. He started his career with the Habs back in 1987-88 and won a Cup with the team in 1993. In all, he played 360 games and had 63 goals and 199 points with the Canadiens, putting him 13th in scoring among Habs blueliners all-time.
Montreal's 3-10-0 in its past 13 games, and falling back into the playoff race after being one of the Eastern Conference's top teams all season. They're not done dealing.
"We were looking for a defenseman who could contribute offensively. Mathieu, an experienced player with a lot of offensive upside, will bring depth to our core group of defensemen and will be an asset on our powerplay," Gainey said via-prepared statement speak.
UPDATE Montreal has demoted Ryan O'Byrne to the AHL.