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Habs add Samsonov, Johnson, & re-sign Aebischer; trade Zednik.


After missing out on numerous free agents from Patrik Elias to Jason Arnott to Brendan Shanahan, Bob Gainey said he’d have to turn to “Plan D”.


Gainey put his plan into action by finally getting his hands on a big-name UFA in Sergei Samsonov, signing the speedy winger to a 2-year deal worth $7.05 million. 


The 27-year-old Samsonov scored 23 goals and added 30 assists for 53 points last season with the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, during the Oilers playoff run, he put up 15 points, including 11 assists, in 24 games.


Montreal was interesting to me from day one,” said Samsonov, “Montreal‘s a team with a deep tradition.”


It’s interesting to note that prior to this years playoff run, Samsonov had 0 PIM in 35 career playoff games. However, in the 24 post-season games he played this season, he picked up 14 PIM. This, however, may very well be a direct result of the stricter refereeing in the playoffs.


Meanwhile, Gainey had other moves in mind, completing two separate trades that saw Richard Zednik traded to the Washington Capitals for a 2007 3rd round draft pick. Meanwhile, the Habs also traded a 2007 4th round draft pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for Mike Johnson.  In 80 games last season with the Coyotes, 31-year-old Mike Johnson scored 16 goals and added 38 assists with a +7 rating. In the 8 seasons he’s played, Johnson has scored 116 goals and 339 points in 560 games, while having a +/- of +32. The forward will make $1.9M this year.


Johnson was optimistic about the move saying, “It’s certainly going to be much different than Phoenix, and that’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to playing where people are passionate about their team, and care about how the team’s doing.” He continued, “I’m excited to be back in a hockey town.”


It looks as though Johnson will play a more defensive role with the team on the third line. However, he’ll likely still have plenty of opportunities to provide some offense as GM Bob Gainey and Head Coach Guy Carbonneau will likely go with a system that is concentrates on speed and offense throughout, while remaining defensively responsible as a team.


Both Johnson and Samsonov have had their share of injury trouble, each missing over 70 games in a season over the past four years.  


The numerous rumors that had Zednik on his way out of Montreal after his mediocre season proved true. Zednik is going home in a way, as he actually started his career in Washington. He came to Montreal in a trade that saw Trevor Linden, Danius Zubrus, and a 2nd round pick go to Washington for Jan Bulis, and a 1st Round Pick which was used to draft Alexander Perezhogin.


Zednik commented on his return to Washington, “I had some really good years in Washington in the beginning of my career, and now I’m excited to come back as a veteran.”


In other news, goaltender David Aebischer accepted his qualifying offer from the Habs. The 1-year contract will earn him $1.9M next season. Aebischer was obtained in a trade that saw the Habs trade former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore to the Colorado Avalanche.


Aebischer went 4-3-0 in the 7 games he played with the Canadiens last season, posting a 3.73 GAA and a .892 SV%. However, Aebischer posted better numbers with the Avalanche before finding himself in Montreal, going 25-14-2 in 43 games. During that same span, he had a 2.98 GAA and a .900 SV%.


With many people confident that Huet will continue his dominance of the crease, there are plenty rumors that Bob Gainey may trade Aebischer to help fill another hole. RFA Yann Danis is likely wondering what Montreal‘s plans for him are.  Trading Aebischer would likely ensure that Danis would be Huet’s backup at the start of the season. However, I would not be surprised if Gainey decided to keep Aebischer just incase Huet does not live up to expectations, or goes down to injury.


Career bests:

Sergei Samsonov: GP: 82, G: 29, A: 46, PTS: 75, PIMS: 28, +/-: +21

Mike Johnson: GP: 82, G: 23, A: 40, PTS: 63, PIMS 50, +/-: +14

David Aebischer: GP: 62, W: 32, T: 9, MIN: 3703, GAA: 2.09*, SV%: .924*


*Only for seasons where 30 or more games were played.