With all the talk about the Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier being in Bratislava and how the Habs have full intentions to sign their prospect Alexei Yemelin, Gauthier surprised everyone by signing the Swiss defender Raphael Diaz to a one-year two-way contract.
In recent years, the Canadiens have looked towards Switzerland to sign some good offensive minded defencemen. After signing Mark Streit in 2005, the Habs drafted another Swiss defenceman Yannick Weber in the third round of the 2007 draft. Weber is eligible to become RFA this off-season.
The 25-year-old Diaz has played for Switzerland on many occasions, starting with two world junior championships in 2005 and 2006. He followed that by playing in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The 5’11”, 194 lbs. defenceman collected 12 goals and 27 assists in 45 games for EV Zug in the Swiss league this season and was a healthy +14. In eight seasons with the team, he has 33 goals and 85 assists along with 212 penalty minutes in 352 games. In the current IIHF world championship, he appeared in six games scoring three goals and one assist while averaging almost 21 minutes of ice-time.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Raphael Diaz, who we strongly believe has all the attributes to play in the NHL. Raphael is a defenseman with excellent offensive and defensive skills, who constantly improved his play over the years. We look forward to seeing him at training camp,” said Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier in a statement earlier today.
Gauthier is to resume negotiations with Yemelin camp on Tuesday.