Habs bolster defense, acquire Niinimaa from Stars

Updated: September 30, 2006, 8:32 PM ET
Associated Press

Janne Niinimaa
Niinimaa

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens acquired defenseman Janne Niinimaa from Dallas on Saturday in a trade that sent center Mike Ribeiro to the Stars.

Niinimaa shores up a Canadiens defense that has lost Francis Bouillon and Jean-Philippe Cote to injury. The 31-year-old Finn has 54 goals and 262 assists in 700 career regular-season games with Philadelphia, Edmonton, the New York Islanders and Dallas.

"In judging by our team needs, what we really need and where we are vulnerable, it responds with an experienced player," Canadiens GM Bob Gainey said. "He can be a good, strong participant in that group and he can give us some added experience and added weight to our defense, as well as depth."

Ribeiro had 50 goals and 103 assists in 276 games for Montreal. Canadiens GM Bob Gainey informed the Montreal native of the trade before Saturday night's preseason game against Ottawa. Ribeiro talked briefly on the phone with Stars GM Doug Armstrong before speaking to reporters.

"I think they have great players, a great team, and they're going to try to win the Stanley Cup," Ribeiro said. "That's my goal going there. I always wished to win the Cup here, the 25th in Montreal, and I guess that won't happen. It's a bit of a shock, but Dallas is a great city. There's no snow and no winter, so I'm going to be happy."

Draft picks also were exchanged in the deal. Montreal acquired Dallas' fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft for the Canadiens' sixth-round pick in 2008.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press