Thursday, July 3, 2008

Habs Acquire "Heavyweight Champ" On Busy Day

"Big Georges" and Mike Komisarek will not hunt each other any longer; instead, they'll hunt together.

The Canadiens were a very busy team Thursday as they completed 1 trade, 3 free agent signings and an AHL affiliate re-signing.

The Canadiens' biggest move was signing UFA winger and hometown boy Georges Laraque to a 3-year, $4.5 million deal. Laraque, arguably (almost undisputedly) the league's top enforcer, weighs in at 260 lbs. and measures 6-foot-3.

"It’s been a few years now that I’ve been imagining what it would be like to play for the Canadiens," admitted Laraque via conference call from his Edmonton home. "I was born in Montreal. My whole family lives in Montreal. I knew that I wanted to play here not at the tail-end of my career, but in my prime."

"I know my role and I hope to make the jobs of certain teammates easier," explained Laraque, who boasts over 1,000 career penalty minutes. "Having played against him, I know that a guy like Mike Komisarek is much more useful when he’s on the ice and that he shouldn’t really feel the need to drop his gloves out there. I want to take that pressure off Mike’s shoulders and give players like Max Lapierre and Steve Begin the chance to play their physical game without worrying about someone going after them."

The Habs also signed in UFA goaltender Marc Denis to a one-year, two-way contract, meaning that Denis can be demoted to and promoted from Hamilton without clearing waivers. Denis, another hometowner, becomes a backup plan in such case that Jaroslav Halak doesn't get a deal inked before the start of the season. Halak is currently a restricted free agent.

--from earlier...--

Toronto GM Cliff Feltcher says that "Grabovski will be expected to slot into a center position immediately" after acquiring the disgruntled centerman from Montreal. The Canadiens received 5th round, 128th overall draftee from last month's draft Greg Pateryn, D, and a 2nd round pick in 2010.

Grabovski, 24, had 9 points in 27 games for Montreal. The native of Potsdam, Germany became disgruntled on the Habs' roster after sitting out most of the season as a healthy scratch.

Last season, Pateryn, 18, in his first campaign in the United States Hockey League, led the Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets defencemen with 27 points (3 goals, 24 assists) in 60 games. He also led his team with 145 penalty minutes. The Royal Oak, Michigan native was also named to the Eastern Division Team in the USHL Prospects/All-Star Game and received USHL Defensive Player of The Week honors in March.

Pateryn, 6-2, 212 pounds, will join the University of Michigan for the 2008-09 season.

The Canadiens also signed tough guy D Alex Henry and AHL goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.

Henry, 28, suited up for the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League last season. He recorded 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) and was second on the team with 142 penalty minutes. He was one of only two defensemen to play in all 80 regular season games. Henry spent the past two seasons in the Nashville Predators’ organization after signing as a free agent on August 21, 2006. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman played 175 NHL games with Edmonton (3), Washington (38) and Minnesota (134).

C├ędrick Desjardins, 22, had a tremendous season in 2007-08 - his second as a professional - as he led the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones to the Kelly Cup. The Cyclones also won the league’s regular season title with a 115-point campaign. Desjardins posted a 16-4-2 record, had five shutouts, maintained a 1.92 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in only 22 games. He led all ECHL goaltenders during the playoffs with a 1.84 goals-against average, posting an 11-4 record and a .939 save percentage in 16 games. Desjardins also played 12 games with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs last season (4-4-1, 3.04 GAA and .909 save percentage).

In his second consecutive appearance in the Memorial Cup in 2006, he led the Remparts to the tournament championship. He was named the Memorial Cup Top Goaltender and was also named to the tournament’s All-Star Team.

*with extracts from canadiens.com

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