Canadiens trade captain Shea Weber to Vegas for forward Evgenii Dadonov

Last season, Dadonov, 33, played 78 games for the Golden Knights and had 43 points, including 20 goals.

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It’s official: Shea Weber is no longer captain of the Canadiens.

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General manager Kent Hughes announced Thursday afternoon that Weber had been traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Evgenii Dadonov.

Weber hasn’t played a game this season due to numerous injuries and is not expected to play again in the final four seasons of his 14-year, US$110 million contract. But the Canadiens never named a new captain while finishing with the worst record in the NHL.

Weber, 36, will earn just $6 million over the last four years of his initial-load contract. His annual salary cap will remain at $7.857 million, but he is expected to remain on long-term injured reserve. Dadonov is entering the final season of his three-year, $15 million contract. The 33-year-old Russian has gone a total of 20-23-43 in 78 games this season.

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With goaltender Carey Price’s future still up in the air due to a knee injury, Hughes didn’t want to risk going into next season with nearly $20 million in LTIR. Price, 34, has four seasons left on his eight-year, US$84 million contract with an annual salary cap of $10.5 million.

Hughes said having Price and Weber on LTIR would have limited his ability to spend money improving the team.

“Our hope is that Carey is able to play and if so, great,” Hughes said. “If that was the case then trading Shea’s contract might not have been so important to us, but we didn’t want to take that risk and, look, we’re getting a hockey player back that we think can help our team.

“I think I said from the start that everything we do – or try to do – our goal is to try to put a team on the ice that can win continuously or sustainably and that everything we do will be first and foremost with that goal in mind,” added Hughes, who took over as managing director in January. “So when we do a trade like this, let him limit us to short term or not, it certainly benefits us from a longer term perspective, which is years 2, 3, and 4, and I think that was the most important for us. Hopefully there will be more news to come in terms of changes here.

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One change that is sure to come is a new captain next season, with Nick Suzuki and Brendan Gallagher being the main candidates for the job. Hughes is still open to trade offers from defenseman Jeff Petry, who has three more seasons left on his contract with a salary cap of $6.25 million.

“We had a period of time where we were able to watch and assess and talk to the players on the team to find out who was stepping up and who had the leadership qualities and the maturity to take on this type of role in a market like Montreal. , ” Hughes said of the choice of a new captain.

Hughes called Weber Wednesday night in Kelowna, B.C., to let him know a trade was likely to take place on Thursday, wanting him to hear the news from him first.

“We actually interrupted his son’s baseball game,” Hughes said. “I think he was coaching or something. He said, ‘Kent, can we call you back?’ ”

And with this return call, the Shea Weber era is officially over in Montreal.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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