The Eastern Conference leading Canadiens, gunning for a first Stanley Cup since 1993, made three moves Monday that added to their depth without giving up any roster players.
The team-record three deals brought in defenceman Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers and some speed on their bottom two lines in forwards Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell, acquired in separate trades with the Buffalo Sabres.
"I'm really happy with our group," general manager Marc Bergevin said. "What we've done this year, the way we played, the way we competed, where we are in the standings, is great for our players and coaching staff.
"I'm proud of them. And today, we brought help."
Bergevin didn't want to touch the chemistry that has developed on the team that took a 41-16-5 record into a game Monday night in San Jose, which was appreciated by the players.
"We're getting rewarded for our good play right now by the GM taking some chances and making some moves," forward Max Pacioretty said. "I think it sends a message to our group that this is our time and we got to go for it."
The Canadiens dealt a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder to Edmonton for Petry, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The fifth-round pick will become a fourth-rounder if the Canadiens win one playoff series and a third-rounder if they win two.
They sent a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft to Buffalo for Flynn, who is due to become a restricted free agent. Then they sent a seventh round pick in 2016 and 24-year-old prospect Jack Nevins to the Sabres for Mitchell, another impending UFA. Nevins has no points and 88 penalty minutes in 32 AHL games in Hamilton this season.
"There's a puck mover defenceman in Petry and we brought skill and speed to our depth up front," said Bergevin.
Petry, who filled the need for a rearguard with a right-hand shot, should move onto the second or third defence pairing.
The 27-year-old has four goals and 11 assists and was minus-25 in 59 games this season. The six-foot-three, 198-pound American has 17 goals and 74 points in 295 NHL games, all with the Oilers, who drafted him 45th overall in 2006.
Flynn has five goals and 22 assists in 54 games while playing a second- and third-line role this season. Overall, he has 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points in 159 games over three seasons with Buffalo.
The 26-year-old American is also a right hand shot and will likely see action on the third or fourth line as well as on penalty killing.
"I'm really excited for this opportunity that I have; to go to the team that's first place in the East," Flynn said. "Always, when you have a chance to win, I'll take the opportunity.
"They've got a really deep lineup, a lot of good forwards, a lot of guys who can score. If I play more of a defensive role or kill some penalties and things like that, whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I'm going to do."
The Sabres signed Flynn as a free agent in 2012 after he completed his university career at Maine.
Mitchell, still another righty from the Montreal suburb of Greenfield Park, has six goals and seven assists in 51 games with the Sabres this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Mitchell and Flynn played on the same line for a stretch this season.
Last week, the Canadiens acquired burly right winger Devante Smith-Pelly from Anaheim.
To make room for the newcomers, Montreal sent defenceman Greg Pateryn and forward Michael Bournival to Hamilton.Suggest a correction