The Montreal Canadiens acquiring Nicolas Deslauriers from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Zach Redmond proved to be a victory as the year progressed.
While the Montreal Canadiens and the excited fanbase was looking forward to the season opener, Marc Bergevin got the ball moving on the trade front. A simple AHL transaction saw the Habs send defenceman Zach Redmond to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Nicolas Deslauriers. Redmond was a free agent signing from the summer of 2016 after previously playing in the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche organizations.
A strong training camp saw him make the team out of camp, but injuries cut that stint short. Redmond finished the season in the AHL with the St. Johns Ice Caps and didn’t make the cut the following year. But Bergevin had other plans for the 29-year-old. Out he came and in return, the Montreal Canadiens got a hometown energy player with something to prove.
Deslauriers brought that gritty play to the Laval Rocket. He scored 3 goals and 2 assists in 14 games with Laval bringing a physical presence to the team’s forward group. At the time, there were constant debates as to who the Habs should call up in relief of a flu-stricken Torrey Mitchell and injured Artturi Lehkonen.
Daniel Carr and Peter Holland – points leaders on Laval at the time – made the most sense. However, the Habs chose to go with Deslauriers instead. The 27-year-old didn’t have the best debut despite riling up the crowd with a fight against Zac Rinaldo. The downside of the battle was that the momentum swing went in Arizona’s favour queuing their comeback.
Deslauriers then took his role on the Montreal Canadiens to something fans didn’t expect. He started to score.
Grit and Goals
Goal-scoring wasn’t really part of Deslauriers’ MO. Before this season in Montreal, his highest total was six from 2016 with the Sabres. Deslauriers scored 18 goals with the Rochester Americans back in the 2013-14 season, but that was the AHL.
What made his 10 goals this year interesting, was that they weren’t flukey. They were good shots from the slot, tap in goals from an incredible feed, and one that took skill to pull off. That last one being his goal against the New York Islanders where he was lone and beat Thomas Greiss in tight.
And of course in true Deslauriers style, each goal had an energetic celebration to go along with it.
Redmond, on the other hand, played the entire season in Rochester. But he had a career-high in points with 15 goals and 32 assists in 47 games. There’s no denying the impact that Redmond had for his new team. However, for Deslauriers to work into a position to be an effective player on the Habs tips the scale. Not to mention he along with Carr and Byron Froese were probably one of the most productive bottom nine lines in the league.
By the end of the season, the Quebec native signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens that will see him make $950,000 annually. Redmond had a new contract waiting for him as well as he signed a two-year AHL deal.
Although the Sabres organization have chosen to stick with the defenceman a little longer, there’s no doubt who won this deal. Who knows whether Deslaurier will have the same offensive punch next season.
Regardless, the Montreal Canadiens found themselves another player who leaves it all on the ice. Sometimes it’s the small deals that surprise you. Deslauriers’ path to Montreal was just that.