The Montreal Canadiens have claimed defensive centre Blair Betts off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.

Betts, 31, is known as a strong penalty killer and fills the team's need for an experienced fourth line centre. The six-foot-three, 210-pound Edmonton native has 41 goals and 78 points in 477 career NHL games with Calgary, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia.

He had five goals and seven assists in 75 games last season.

Betts has one year remaining a contract that will pay him $700,000 US. He is expected to be in the lineup when the Canadiens open the regular season Thursday night in Toronto.

The Canadiens also assigned forwards Andreas Engqvist, Mike Blunden, Aaron Palushaj and Ian Schultz to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL and placed defenceman Jeff Woywitka on waivers, likely to be sent to Hamilton as well.

Palushaj, 22, had a goal and three assists in five pre-season games with Montreal. The 21-year-old Schultz played in two games. Both played for Hamilton last season.

Blunden, who was acquired in a trade from Columbus in July for Ryan Russell, had no points in five pre-season games.

The moves brought Montreal down to 22 players, two of whom (Andrei Markov and Lars Eller) are injured.