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Wings send Steve Ott to Canadiens for 2018 draft pick

Ott knew something was up when he was a healthy scratch for Vancouver game

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

VANCOUVER - Steve Ott knew something was up when he was not in the Red Wings' lineup in Vancouver.

As he suspected, Ott was headed to another team as the Wings sent him to Montreal in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

"I thought I had been playing pretty good and probably didn't deserve to be a healthy scratch," Ott said after the Wings' 3-2 overtime win in Vancouver. "That kind of gave it away in the sense that something was up. I've been through this a few times now and kind of prepared my family, talked to them during the day and knew something was going to go on and obviously it popped during the game."

The Canadiens made the announcement right around the time the Canucks were tying the Wings at 2 late in the third period.

Unlike Brendan Smith, who was traded early in the day to the Rangers and immediately headed to New York, Ott was still with the team in Vancouver.

Ott planned to fly to Montreal Wednesday morning.

"Obviously, it's tough," Ott said. "It's mixed feelings but it's part of the business. I sure absolutely loved the opportunity I got here in Detroit, to say the least. To put on that Red Wing jersey meant a lot to me, it meant a lot to my family to be able to play in front of friends and family every single night as a Red Wing. But business-wise, it's definitely part of it.

"Now headed to a team with another great heritage and a great opportunity in the playoffs as well. It's very exciting to know that I have a chance in the playoffs."

After their 1-0 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, the Canadiens are first in the Atlantic Division with 78 points in 64 games and fifth in the Eastern Conference.

"I've heard nothing but great things about that dressing room in Montreal," Ott said. "I know some people, from assistant coach Kirk Muller to some players that I played with, like Tomas Plekanec, when I played with him in Hamilton back in the '05 lockout when I played for the Hamilton Bulldogs. So there's some guys I know in the organization already, I know how great that dressing room is. They have a pretty special group there as well."

Although Ott had just six points in 42 games, that doesn't tell the real story of his impact on the Wings this season.

"He's one of the best teammates I've ever been around," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "He's an excellent, excellent teammate, you can't say enough about him in the locker room in what he does from a leadership standpoint and I think Henrik Zetterberg would tell you that as well, that he does a great job of helping out in the leadership core. But I also thought he was a heart and soul type player and he's a good hockey player. So I can't thank Steve enough for everything he's given to us so far this year."

Said Zetterberg: "You can call it a business decision. It's going to be a big loss for us. He's been huge for us in the locker room, on the ice every time he's been playing. He's been a big key for all the young guys to look up to. He will be missed."

Justin Abdelkader said it was fun getting to play with Ott instead of against him.

"He's been a great guy in the room, a great guy on the ice," Abdelkader said. "He's a heart-and-soul kind of player that you love to have on your team and hate to play against. We had some battles with him throughout the years when he was in Dallas and Buffalo but it's unfortunate to see him go. But at the same time we obviously wish him luck and thank him for everything he's done for us this year."

Frans Nielsen hadn't even heard about Ott leaving until told by reporters after the game.

"He was? You know, another great guy," Nielsen said. "He meant a lot to this group in the room. A great leader. It sucks to see that happen, too. But good for him. Hopefully he'll have a chance here, a run at the Cup. I wish him all the best. It's been a pleasure playing with him."

Although Ott wasn't in Detroit for an entire season, his outgoing personality helped him form close bonds in a short time.

"It's tough because guys know it's an extremely tough situation when you don't make the playoffs or you're a team that's a longshot to make the playoffs and it's tough because all the guys wear that on their pride but at the same time I formed a brothership with a lot of the guys in here," Ott said. "You give the farewell hugs and goodbyes but all in all, what a good group of guys here in Detroit and I'll be thankful for that opportunity I got there."

The Wings may not be done dealing as Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches.

Thomas Vanek has been mentioned more than a few times.

Vanek played 13:29 Tuesday, finishing plus-1. "I'm definitely still hoping that he's going to be a Red Wing after tomorrow," Nielsen said.

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