In advance of Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay, the Habs swung a pair of trades. They acquired Marco Scandella from Buffalo for a 2020 fourth-round pick and flipped Mike Reilly to Ottawa for a 2021 fifth rounder and minor leaguer Andrew Sturtz.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Scandella was a stabilizing presence on Minnesota’s back end. However, he has struggled since being dealt to Buffalo back in 2017 and went from playing more than 23 minutes in his first season with the team to more of a third pairing role while at times being scratched. If nothing else, he’ll provide the Habs with another option for the left side of their back end. In 31 games this season, he has three goals and six assists along with 38 blocked shots while averaging 16:36 per night.
The 29-year-old is in the final year of his contract with a $4 million cap hit and a $4.75 million salary. The Sabres aren’t retaining any of it in the deal. As for the pick the Habs gave up, it’s San Jose’s selection that was previously acquired. Buffalo didn’t hold onto it for long as it was flipped to Calgary for Michael Frolik.
As for Reilly, he has been up with the Habs all season but has hardly played, suiting up in just 14 of 40 games. While he has shown signs of offensive promise in the past, his defensive zone struggles were enough to quickly lose Claude Julien’s confidence which made it a bit of a surprise that Montreal tendered him a qualifying offer last June let alone handing him a two-year deal with a $1.5 million cap hit. The Canadiens aren’t retaining any of Reilly’s salary.
In acquiring a fifth-round pick, the Habs ultimately get back what they gave up to acquire Reilly from Minnesota back in 2018. The key is getting out of the second year of the deal which will give them a little more cap and contract flexibility next summer. As for Sturtz, he’s in the final year of his entry-level deal and has struggled at the minor league level. His presence is likely just to match contracts but the 25-year-old will be off to Laval where he will join their long list of injuries as he has been on IR since late November.