The Habs were busy in the trade department on Wednesday, as they acquired RW Zack Kassian from Vancouver along with a 2016 5th round pick. In return, the Canucks acquire Brandon Prust.
Kassian has been a chronic underachiever since being selected in the first round (13th overall) by Buffalo in 2009. He has spent parts of the last five seasons with the Canucks after being acquired in exchange for Cody Hodgson (who signed with Nashville earlier on Wednesday).
He had a really rough season with Vancouver in 2014-15. He played in just 42 games (missing some with a late back injury while spending a lot of time as a healthy scratch), collecting ten goals and six assists with 81 PIMS. This came just a year after he posted career numbers, earning 14 goals and 15 assists in 73 games. Kassian was close to returning from his injury (and would have been available had they advanced to the second round) and will be ready to play in training camp.
It seems likely he’ll be given a chance to take the place of P-A Parenteau (who signed with Toronto). He’ll add some grit to that role but lacks the offensive skill that Parenteau brought to the table.
Prust spent the past three seasons with Montreal after signing as a free agent from the Rangers. He has consistently been among the league leaders in fights and PIMS and was well-loved in the dressing room. Last year, he played in all 82 games, picking up four goals and 14 assists with 134 PIMS. He also added a goal and three assists in twelve playoff games.
Both players have one year left on their contracts. Prust has a cap hit of $2.5 million and will be a UFA after the deal; Kassian has a cap hit of $1.75 million and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration eligibility following the season. The Habs save $750,000 on the cap as a result, meaning they now have roughly $7.3 million in cap space.