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Canadiens sign Gilbert, re-sign Weaver

by Arpon Basu

The Montreal Canadiens brought balance to their defense in the first hour of unrestricted free agency Tuesday.

Moments after trading defenseman Josh Gorges to the Buffalo Sabres, the Canadiens signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Tom Gilbert to a two-year contract reportedly worth $2.8 million per season and then resigned defenseman Mike Weaver to a one-year contract worth a reported $1.75 million.

As right-handed defensemen, Gilbert and Weaver fill a need on a team that had P.K. Subban as the only right-handed shooter on the back end.

Gilbert had three goals and 25 assists in 73 games with the Florida Panthers last season playing 21:20 per game, including time on both special teams. Gilbert played 2:13 per game on the power play and was tied for third on the team with six power-play points.

The Canadiens have long needed a quarterback for their second power-play unit, with Subban and Andrei Markov seeing the bulk of the time on the top unit, and Gilbert should fit in nicely there potentially alongside left-shot defenseman Nathan Beaulieu.

Gilbert was also a strong possession player with the Panthers with his team getting 51.7 percent of the shot attempts and 49 percent of the goals scored with him on the ice at 5-on-5. The Panthers??? numbers in both categories fell when Gilbert was not on the ice.

Weaver was acquired by Bergevin at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Panthers and was a key component of the Canadiens' run to the Eastern Conference Final, playing on the third defense pair and killing penalties.

In 17 regular season games with the Canadiens, Weaver scored one goal and six assists with a plus-9 rating.

The Canadiens also signed Czech forward Jiri Sekac to a two-year contract and forward Jeremy Gr??goire to a three-year entry-level contract.

Sekac, 21, played last season in the Kontinental Hockey League, scoring 11 goals and 28 points. He played in the Czech Extraliga during the 2012-13 season.

Gr??goire, 18, had 35 goals and 69 points in 65 regular-season games last season for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He helped Baie-Comeau reach the QMJHL finals, leading the Drakkar with 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in 22 playoff games.

Gr??goire was a sixth-round pick (No. 176) by the Canadiens in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Montreal also signed veteran goaltender Joey MacDonald to a one-year, two-way contract; financial terms were not disclosed.

MacDonald, 34, split last season between the Calgary Flames and their American Hockey League affiliate in Abbotsford. In 133 appearances with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Flames, he has a 44-61-15 record with a .902 save percentage and 3.00 goals-against average.

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