The Bulldogs were the focus again on Thursday as the Habs made a pair of
moves to bolster the Hamilton lineup. First, they acquired Michael Blunden
from Columbus in exchange for Ryan Russell (whose twin brother, Kris, plays for
the Blue Jackets), while also signing veteran Brian Willsie to a one year,
Blunden, a 6’3 24 year old RW, was originally a 2nd round pick (43rd overall)
of the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2005. Last season, he played with the
AHL’s Springfield Falcons (where he was an alternate captain), suiting up for 37
games before suffering a season ending shoulder injury. In those games, he
picked up 12 goals and 9 assists. He also earned a brief call up to
Columbus where he played one game, going pointless.
Russell joined the Habs via trade from the Rangers back in 2007, just before
the CHL prospect signing deadline. He spent four seasons with the
Bulldogs, primarily in a checking role. He was a 7th round pick of the
Rangers, also in 2005.
Willsie is by far the most experienced of these players, having played in at
least one NHL game in every season since 1998-99. Last season, the 33 year
old winger played 76 games with the Hershey Bears, collecting 30 goals and 38
assists, which put him 11th overall in league scoring. He also played one
game with Washington, where he picked up an assist.
Blunden recently re-signed a one year deal worth $615,000 at the NHL level
and $100,000 (US) if he plays in the minors. The financial terms of
Willsie’s deal have not yet been released. This gives the Habs 42 signed
contracts out of the limit of 50, with a quartet of RFA’s still to re-sign.
Michael Blunden’s career stats:
Brian Willsie’s career stats: