The Canadiens have acquired two minor leaguer forwards on through free agency and the other through a trade.  Forward Michael Blunden comes to Montreal in return for Hamilton forward Ryan Russell who was a restricted free agent while Brian Willsie has signed a two-year two-way contract after becoming an unrestricted free agent with the Washington Capitals.  Willsie finished 10th in AHL scoring last year with Hershey. 

From the Canadiens Publicity Department

Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced today the signing of forward Brian Willsie to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2011-12 season. As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


Michael Willsie

In 2010-11, Willsie finished second in scoring with the Hershey Bears and 11th overall in the AHL with 68 points (30 goals, 38 assists) in 76 games. He maintained a +27 plus/minus differential, the team’s second best and served 68 penalty minutes. He was the team leader, ranking fourth overall in the AHL with 14 powerplay goals. Willsie also appeared in one NHL game with the Capitals, collecting one assist.

Willsie, 33, played 381 career regular season games in the NHL with Colorado, Washington and Los

Angeles. He has registered 109 points (52 goals, 57 assists) and 217 penalty minutes. He also suited up for 10 playoff contests with the Avalanche between 2001 and 2003.

Since his professional debut in 1998-99, the 6’01’’, 202 lbs forward appeared in 473 career regular season games in the AHL, registering 365 points (173 goals, 192 assists) and 308 penalty minutes.

A native of Belmont, Ontario, Willsie was drafted in the seventh round, 146th overall by the Colorado

Avalanche at the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He joined the Capitals as a free agent on July 14, 2010


Michael Blunden

MONTREAL (July 7, 2011) – Montreal Canadiens general manager, Pierre Gauthier, announced today the acquisition of forward Michael Blunden from the Columbus Blue Jackets in return for forward Ryan Russell.

The 24-year old Blunden played 37 games with the AHL Springfield Falcons in 2010-11, recording 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) and serving 41 penalty minutes. Blunden also appeared in one NHL game with the Blue Jackets.

Blunden suited up in a total of 51 career regular season games in the NHL with Chicago and Columbus,

including a 40-game season with the Blue Jackets in 2009-10, registering four points (2-2-4) and 59 penalty minutes. Since the 2005-06 season, the 6’04’’, 211 lbs right winger played a total of 240 career games in the AHL.

He has collected 120 points (52 goals, 68 assists) and served 294 penalty minutes.

A native of Toronto, Blunden was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Blue Jackets on January 10, 2008 in return for forward Adam Pineault.

Ryan Russell played 65 games with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs in 2010-11, recording 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists). Acquired from the New York Rangers on May 31, 2007 in return for a seventh-round draft pick in 2007, he registered 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 100 career games with the Bulldogs between 2007 and 2011.