The Habs have added some depth on the back end as on Friday, they announced that they have signed defenceman Sami Niku to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $750,000 in the NHL, $425,000 in the AHL, and has a guarantee of $475,000.
Niku cleared unconditional waivers from Winnipeg earlier this week but that contract was a one-way pact. In not claiming him, Montreal saves some money in terms of minor league salary although his NHL cap hit will be a bit higher; while Niku’s NHL cap hit is for the league minimum, his old one was for $725,000.
The 24-year-old has been a productive blueliner in the AHL, notching 80 points in 114 career games there while winning the Eddie Shore Award for best defenceman in 2018. However, that has not materialized into much success in the NHL as Niku has just 10 career points in 54 contests with the Jets. Only six of those games came last season as he was a frequent healthy scratch in Winnipeg.
Niku should be battling for a depth spot with Montreal in training camp with players like Mattias Norlinder and Chris Wideman. He would have to clear waivers to get to Laval and whether or not that happens would depend on injuries around the league. If he gets to the Rocket, he’d be a significant upgrade on a back end that lost Gustav Olofsson and Cale Fleury to Seattle as well as Josh Brook to a long-term injury. Either way, he’s certainly an intriguing pickup for the Canadiens.