The Montreal Canadiens completed a minor league trade on Thursday as the team acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Joseph Blandisi and Jake Lucchini.
After The Puck Authority learnt of the deal that would send the centreman to Montreal, Taylor Haase of DK Pittsburgh Sports reported that Blandisi would be joined by the Canadian left-winger. Within minutes later, the Pittsburgh Penguins officially confirmed the transaction.
As such, the Penguins acquired forwards Riley Barber and Phil Varone. Both players, as per the announcement, will report to the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Blandisi, 25-years-old, has split the season between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording two goals and three assists in 21 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. As for his time in the AHL, the Markham native has scored six goals and eight assists in 26 games played.
Joining him is Jake Lucchini, another Canadian from Trail, B.C., who has scored seven goals and eight assists in 53 games as a rookie with Wilkes-Barre. Lucchini, 24-years-old, was an undrafted free agent out of Michigan Tech, joining the team fresh out of college at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.
On the other end of the deal, the Penguins add Riley Barber to the mix, a six-foot winger from Washington, PA who currently weighs in at 195lbs. Barber, 26-years-old, has scored 31 goals and 29 assists in 64 games with the Rocket in Laval. After an impressive AHL display, the American native was recalled by Marc Bergevin where he played in nine games for the Canadiens, all scoreless.
Barber, a right-handed shooter, joins the Pittsburgh Penguins coming over from Laval where he was signed to a two-way contract with the Canadiens, earning a total salary of $700,000. As well, at the AHL level, Riley Barber was earning $300,000. As per Taylor Haase, the Pittsburgh right-winger will enter the summer as an unrestricted free agent. While filing under the Group 6, it is worth noting that Riley Barber is no longer exempt from being placed on waivers.
Barber, a World Juniors champion, was originally selected by the Washington Capitals as a sixth-round pick back in 2012. After just three NHL games, he would spend the following four seasons with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Looking at his first NHL stint, Riley Barber would wind up scoreless before being demoted in 2016-17.
Lastly, joining Barber is Canadian centreman Phil Varone. Varone, 29-years-old, is a versatile addition for the Pittsburgh Penguins as the left-handed shooter from Vaughan, Ontario plays both as a centreman as well as a winger. Taking a look at his season, Varone has spent it all playing with the Rocket, scoring four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 27 games played.
Varone, who currently weighs in at 5’10, 195lbs, is currently signed to a two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level. While staying put in Laval, the left-handed shooter is currently earning a salary of $450,000 at the AHL level. Much like Riley Barber, the former Sabre and Ottawa Senator will enter the summer as an unrestricted free agent. To that point, it’s worth noting that Phil Varone, an OHL alumni, is no longer exempt from being placed on waivers.
According to GM Marc Bergevin, Joseph Blandisi and Jake Lucchini will both report to the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
More to come.