Canadiens land free-agent darling Brandon Prust; bring back Francis Bouillon

Brandon Prust was poised to make bank as an unrestricted free agent this summer, having solidified his reputation as heart-and-soul player who contributes on both ends of the ice — and especially on the penalty kill.

Hence, there was a gap between what the New York Rangers were offering and what Prust thought would be his open market price.

That price: 4 years and $10 million, paid by the Montreal Canadiens for Prust's services, or a $2.5 million cap hit.

The 6-0, 190-pound forward played 82 games last season with 17 points, 156 PIMs and 144 hits. He joins forward Colby Armstrong, signed by the Habs after a buyout from the Toronto Maple Leafs, to bring a little sandpaper to the Montreal lineup.

Both signings are different kinds of gambles. Armstrong can't stay healthy. Prust … well, a 4-year term for a role player would seem a bit much. But as Adam Burish showed, it's the going rate. Plus, it's a nice win for Habs GM Marc Bergevin in his first free agent frenzy — Prust had his share of suitors.

Montreal also signed Francis Bouillon to a 1-year, $1.5-million to be a snitch for coach Michel Therrien.

OK, that's a little hash; but one imagines the veteran defenseman will be an advocate for his former coach in junior and with the Canadiens. As Boullion said of Therrien:

"It's going to be team first," he said. "He's going to give a lot to the guys who work their ass off. He doesn't like the lazy guys or the guys who think they have good skills and they don't have to work. He likes the rough game, and if you don't play rough or don't show up and want to win, he's going to play somebody else.

"He's pretty intense in everything he does ... he wants to win," Bouillon added. "He was my pick (for Canadiens coach). He's got character, and I think right now what they need to bring that team back on the right track is a coach who has character and who's going to put all the boys together and believe in his team."

Boullion became available when the Nashville Predators opted not to re-sign the "players bigger than his 5-foot-8 frame" defenseman.

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