Habs ship prospect, draft pick to Lightning for Nikita Nesterov

The Montreal Canadiens added some defensive depth Thursday when they acquired Nikita Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defensive prospect Jonathan Racine and a sixth-round draft pick in 2017.

Nesterov, 23, had appeared in 35 games this season for the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning, collecting three goals and nine assists.

He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and was deemed expendable in part because the Lightning have a number of more prominent players, including Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin, who will need new contracts at the end of the season.

Racine, 23, was originally drafted 87th overall in 2011 by the Florida Panthers and was traded to Montreal before the start of this season. He had appeared in 26 games for Montreal's American Hockey League affiliate in St. John's, Newfoundland. He had three assists and led the team in penalty minutes.

Going into play Thursday, Montreal was first in the Atlantic Division and Tampa Bay was tied for the fewest points in the Eastern Conference.