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Ready to put down roots

David Schlemko is excited to get started with the Canadiens and establish himself on the Montreal blue line

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

It's been a whirlwind 24 hours for David Schlemko.

After being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft on Wednesday night, the defenseman was promptly traded to the Canadiens on Thursday, in exchange for the Habs' fifth-round pick in 2019. After the draft, Schlemko knew to wait a little while before packing his family -- and his playing cards -- up before heading to Sin City.

"I knew (getting dealt) was possible. They had to pick 30 guys," explained Schlemko, who suited up for 62 games with the San Jose Sharks last season. "It was probably a few hours after I found out that my agent told me I was probably going to be flipped, and I just found out this morning it was going to be Montreal."

The Canadiens will be Schlemko's sixth NHL stop after spending parts of seven seasons with the Phoenix/Arizona franchise, brief stints in Dallas and Calgary, and then a season each in New Jersey and San Jose. Needless to say, the 30-year-old is looking forward to staying put for a good chunk of time in Montreal.

"Yeah! That would be great," Schlemko said. "It would be nice to lay down some roots somewhere, and our whole family is pretty excited to be staying in Canada, and to be going to such a big hockey market."

It certainly helps that the 6-foot, 190-pound blue-liner will be running into some familiar faces when he shows up for training camp in the fall.

"I know a few (of the guys). I played way back in Phoenix and in the minors with Al Montoya, and just briefly with Jordie Benn in Dallas and Paul Byron in Calgary," recounted Schlemko. "It's nice to see a few familiar faces."

The Edmonton native says he's familiar with the Eastern Conference style of play after playing the 2015-16 season with the New Jersey Devils. He feels like he's a good match for the quicker pace on that side of the continent.

"I can move the puck pretty well. I can get back and beat the forecheck," shared Schlemko, who netted a pair of goals and added 16 assists for the Sharks last season. "My hockey sense is pretty good, and I like to think my game is well-rounded and I can touch every aspect of the game. I'm ready to embrace whatever role is thrust upon me."

After moving around quite a bit over the course of his career, Schlemko, who signed a four-year free-agent contract with the Sharks on July 1 of last year, believes that with some newfound stability, the best is yet to come.

"It's a tough league, it's hard to establish yourself. Especially for me, when I was young, I went through a few years in a row of injuries, and it's a tough way to start your career. Over the past couple of years, I've found my game a little more, and I've stayed relatively healthy," concluded Schlemko, who boasts 360 games of NHL experience to date. "That builds your confidence. I feel like I'm still in the prime of my career, and I can still give a lot more."

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