Montreal has made another move to shore up their defensive depth, acquiring defenceman Gustav Olofsson from Minnesota in exchange for forward Will Bitten.
Olofsson was a second round pick (46th overall) of the Wild back in 2013 and split last season between Minnesota’s third pairing and the press box. He suited up in 41 games last season, collecting eight assists and 14 penalty minutes while averaging just below 13 minutes per night of ice time and did not play during their first-round exit at the hands of Winnipeg.
The 23-year-old is in the final season of a two-year, one-way deal that sees him make $775,000 in salary with a $725,000 cap hit. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season with a qualifying offer of $813,750.
With the move, the Canadiens appear to be prioritizing bringing in NHL-capable defencemen and are okay with moving a prospect to get them. It’s worth noting that Olofsson cleared waivers earlier today but by trading for him instead of claiming him outright, it enables Montreal to send him to Laval which they’ve already done while also keeping them in the same spot on the 50-contract limit (47).
The fact that Montreal parted with a decent prospect in Bitten is certainly a little surprising. He wrapped up his junior career last season with a good showing in OHL Hamilton, scoring 20 goals along with adding 44 assists in 62 games. While there are concerns about his offensive game translating to the professional level, his speed and doggedness around the puck still make him an intriguing bottom-six prospect. He’s in the first season of his three-year, entry-level contract.