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Habs Acquire Petteri Nokelainen from Phoenix

It may not be the huge move some people wanted, but the Canadiens added the center depth they had been looking for ever since the attempted waiver claim of Blair Betts:

Montreal Canadiens general manager, Pierre Gauthier, announced today the acquisition of forward Petteri Nokelainen and defenseman Garrett Stafford from the Phoenix Coyotes, in return for forward Brock Trotter and a 7th-round draft pick in 2012.

Nokelainen will join the Canadiens in Montreal, while Stafford will report to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. Forward Michael Blunden has been recalled from the Bulldogs, while forwards Andreas Engqvist and Aaron Palushaj have been assigned to Hamilton.

The difference in age between Nokelainen and Trotter is exactly one year, so it’s not like the Canadiens are giving up a promising youngster here. Engqvist was not NHL ready, and the way the Canadiens used their 4th line in recent games indicated Martin didn’t trust them for anything but the easiest of situations.

That being said, Phoenix didn’t trust Nokelainen for much more than that, either.  Palushaj did well in the advanced metrics categories in admittedly a very limited role, but the Canadiens are calling up the more experienced Blunden to replace him on the wing.  All the players involved are right-handed shots.

Garrett Stafford ( (31 and just 7 NHL games to his credit) will report to the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL), andwill help out a depleted defensive corps in Hamilton. Stafford has bad memories of Copps Coliseum, though, as he’s best known as the victim of Alexander Perezhogin’s infamous stick-swinging incident in the 2004 AHL Playoffs.

Gauthier stated that he would not comment on the moves today. The transactions were announced shortly after the Canadiens had a team meeting. The team did not practice today.

Habs Press Release  on the trade

Side note: Nokelainen will become the first Finnish player to play for the Canadiens since former captain Saku Koivu left via free agency in 2009. He was drafted in the first round, 16th overall, in 2004 by the New York Islanders and the Canadiens are his fifth NHL team. He played last year in Helsinki, Finland, for Jokerit of the SM-Liiga. He had a 58.1% faceoff rating so far this year, but was a 45.0% in 2009-10, his last NHL season. He played upwards of 2 minutes a game shorthanded in 2009-10, but this year was used more on the PP than SH by Phoenix.

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