Dave Woodward also contributed to this post.
Today the Montreal Canadiens completed a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, acquiring veteran defenceman David Schlemko for a fifth round pick in 2019. Given the Knights had a surplus of defencemen after last night’s expansion draft (13 were taken) the rumours began immediately afterwards that they would be looking to move some of them. With the Habs losing Alexei Emelin last night, and Nathan Beaulieu last week, it was expected Marc Bergevin would try to shore up his depth on defence, especially on the left side since all three players shoot left.
Schlemko has been a reliable depth defenseman throughout his career, who has seen action on all pairings of the teams he has played for. He played 62 games for the San Jose Sharks in 2016-17 (2G, 16A, 18P, +4) after playing in 67 games with the New Jersey Devils during the 2015-16 season (6G, 13A, 19P, -22).
Schlemko began his NHL career with the Coyotes on Feb. 3, 2009, against the Nashville Predators. He saw action in three NHL games that season and was with the Coyotes for 17 games in 2009-10, scoring his first NHL goal against Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars on Nov. 14, 2009.
He moved closer to regular duty in 2010-11, appearing in 43 games for the Coyotes and scoring four goals. Schlemko also made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut that season as the Coyotes faced the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Although the Coyotes were swept in four games, Schlemko scored his first playoff goal in Game 3, a 4-2 loss.
The 2011-12 season was the first in which Schlemko spent the entire season in the NHL, and he had 11 points in 46 games. After playing 30 games in the 2012-13 season, Schlemko again spent a full season with the Coyotes in 2013-14, appearing in 48 games.
But in 2014-15 Schlemko played for three teams – the Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames – and played 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games for Calgary before signing a free agent contract with the Devils in the offseason.
Schlemko’s salary is reasonable at a $2.1 million cap hit. David is a 30 year old player, who has good mobility and does a good job moving the puck out of his own zone. He plays a very underrated game, making few mistakes. He’s not the type of player who takes risks on offence, so he’ll likely be the type of player that fans will not notice most games. He has the versatility to play either side of the ice, but with the Habs lack of left shooting defencemen it’s unlikely he’ll need to switch to the right side that often.
It’s possible the Habs will make another move to shore up this position, since one of Marc Bergevin’s favourite phrases is “you can never have too many defencemen”.