Habs deal Wisniewski's rights to Blue Jackets

The Montreal Canadiens, unable to come to terms with impending free agent defenseman James Wisniewski, have traded his negotiating rights to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft.

If the Blue Jackets re-sign Wisniewski, the Blue Jackets will send a 2012 fifth-round pick to the Canadiens. If unsigned by July 1, Wisniewski becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Wisniewski, 27, had a breakout offensive season in 2010-11, posting career highs in goals (10), assists (41), points (51), power-play goals (8) and shots on goal (158).

Wisniewski started last season with the New York Islanders, but they dealt him to Montreal on Dec. 30, in exchange for a 2011 second-round pick and a 2012 fifth-round selection.

In 43 games with the Canandiens, he had 7 goals and 23 assists, and was an able substitute for the injured Andrei Markov.

However, Markov is healthy and just signed a new three-year contract.

In 329 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Ducks, Islanders and Canadiens, Wisniewski has 27 goals, 121 assists, 302 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating.