General manager Stan Bowman took his first step toward rebuilding the Chicago Blackhawks' roster for next season when he acquired the negotiating rights to veteran defenseman Steve Montador from the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Montador will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and until then, the Hawks will have exclusive rights to negotiate with the 31-year-old after sending a seventh-round draft pick in either the 2012 or 2013 NHL Entry Draft to the Sabres.
Montador, who made $1,550,000 last season, is in line for a raise after posting a career-high 21 assists and 26 points and led the Sabres with a career-best plus-16 plus-minus rating in 73 regular-season games. He also led Buffalo with 136 blocked shots and paced team defensemen with 86 penalty minutes.
A native of Vancouver, Montador has recorded 28 goals, 89 assists and 762 penalty minutes in 519 regular-season games over parts of nine NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames (2001-06), Florida Panthers (2005-08), Anaheim Ducks (2008-09), Boston Bruins (2009) and Sabres (2009-11). He has scored eight points, a plus-11 rating and 36 penalty minutes in 43 career Stanley Cup Playoffs games, including a run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final with Calgary.
The seventh-round draft pick dealt to Buffalo was previously acquired from the Florida Panthers on Monday for winger Tomas Kopecky.
The Hawks are looking to bolster their defense after trading Brian Campbell to the Panthers last weekend.