Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli exchanged defenceman Brandon Davidson with the Canadiens for forward Desharnais. The trade was confirmed during an Oilers telecast, also catching viewers off guard.
Desharnais, 30, has four goals and six assists in 31 games this season and thinks he can complement a speedy Oilers squad.
"I know the team is doing well, you guys have a pretty good team, pretty fast," Desharnais said. "I think I'm going to sit pretty well."
Chiarelli commented on the trade during the game.
"There had been a lot of discussion between myself and Marc Bergevin over the last few weeks," he said. "We felt we needed some depth down the middle and we thought it would give our (Head) Coach (Todd McLellan) some flexibility. He likes to move his forwards around. We looked at a lot of different players and this is a player that you check a lot of the boxes with."
Chiarelli's checklist includes a skater that can bolster his third line, compete hard and help in the faceoff circle. Through Desharnais' career with Montreal, he's hovered around 50 percent in faceoffs. This season in limited playing time, it's at 47.8 percent.
"I know we have been deficient in that area this year," Chiarelli said. "Maybe he hasn't played as much but he's a smart faceoff man and that obviously played into the equation."
The newly acquired Oiler has no doubts about his ability in the circle.
"As a centre, that's one of the things you want to do well and I can for sure do that," Desharnais said.
In parting with rearguard Davidson, Chiarelli felt his defence depth made the deal possible.
"We've got two or three more defencemen down in Bakersfield and we felt that it was a move that would help our depth down the middle," Chiarelli said.
Davidson, a healthy scratch Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, offered his words following the Oilers 2-1 win.
"I think it's a great time for me to express myself to the boys and make sure that my last little impression here is a good one," he said. "I love those guys in that locker room, I've been a part of the Oilers since 2010 and I think it's a tough one for me to walk away from but also a good time for me to say goodbye and move on to the next chapter in my life."
Said Chiarelli about Davidson: "I think he's a good, young, competitive defenceman."
Going from Montreal to Edmonton, there won't be any surprise in seeing the Oilers passionate fanbase for Desharnais.
"The fans are good, it's almost the same as Montreal I would say," he said.
Desharnais will join the Oilers before the squad's match on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.