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On Friday, the Habs made their first of possibly several 'seller trades,' dealing defenceman Hal Gill to Nashville. In return, Pierre Gauthier acquired Nashville's second rounder this year, Blake Geoffrion, and Robert Slaney. Most fans are at least somewhat familiar with Geoffrion after his late season recall to Nashville where he played well enough to suit up for all of the Predators' playoff games. Having had some time to analyze the deal, we offer up our thoughts on the move.
Matt Dilworth: Although it came as no surprise that Gill had been traded, the return and the timing came as a bit of a shock. Nonetheless, both teams involved got what they need; Montreal gained a good draft pick and a decent prospect while Nashville added to their defensive depth. If I had to pick a winner of this transaction, I would have to agree with the consensus that the Canadiens came out on top. Thanks to Tim Gleason re-signing in Carolina and Dallas trading Nicklas Grossman to Philadelphia, defensemen were rapidly becoming a premium commodity, and I think Pierre Gauthier capitalized on this. Aside from Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, the Predators were lacking in the shutdown department, and they were spurred into action to remedy this deficiency. In doing so, Montreal gets a (likely mid-round) 2nd round draft pick, and brings the Morenz/Geoffrion bloodline back to Montreal. It's unlikely that this Geoffrion will ever have his name lifted to the rafters, but he should eventually become a solid bottom 6 forward, and chip in offensively from time to time. In my opinion, this is more than fair return for an aging defenseman who likely would not have been re-signed by Montreal at the season's end.
George Kouniakis: I don't think you'll find many Habs fans who would argue that Gill won't be missed, whether we're speaking of the penalty kill or in the room. But when looking at the return that Gauthier was able to land, it would have been crazy not to pull the trigger on this deal. Many Habs fans who are ready to declare the team sellers would probably have been happy with only a second round pick. So when you consider that the Canadiens were able to land two prospects in exchange for a conditional fifth round pick next year, this was a great move by the general manager. When you also consider that Hal Gill's role on the ice had diminished of late, and that he is on the wrong side of 36 years old, it also becomes clear that the odds were in favour of him not returning to the team for next season. So rather than lose him for nothing, Gauthier was able to restock the cupboards down on the farm. Meanwhile, good-guy Gill gets a shot at the cup again this year playing for a contender. Blake Geoffrion's bloodlines of hockey royalty are really just icing on the cake for me, although I hope that doesn't cause unnecessary extra pressure for him. We all know what fans' expectations can be like when it comes to Montreal.
Brian La Rose: This trade was a pleasant surprise to me. I thought the Habs would have held onto Gill a little longer before dealing him while the return was good as well. Adding an extra second rounder should ensure the Habs actually have one come draft time, something that hasn't been the case since 2008 while Geoffrion could be a decent bottom six forward as early as later this season. He still needs some work as evidenced by his sophomore slump this season, he's not ready to step in immediately. Slaney is a punishment throw in, Montreal likely would've had to give up something else to not take him on, he'll be released in June. Right now the market for defencemen appears to be high so this probably was the right time to sell a player whose role on the ice was diminishing. Off the ice is where he'll most be missed; it remains to be seen what type of effect his departure will have in the room moving forward. All in all though, a quality trade for Pierre Gauthier and the Montreal Canadiens.
Jonathan Rebelo: Hal Gill was traded and that came as no surprise to the many that believe the Canadiens should be sellers at the deadline. What may have surprised some was the value Gill brought back. The 2nd round draft choice first of all comes in this yearís draft and with the Predators comfortably in a playoff position that that pick will be somewhere between the 49-60 spot; a spot the Canadiens have not picked near since 2008. In the 3 most recent drafts the Canadiens have been without a 2nd rounder because those picks were used to acquire players to patch holes to make or improve their playoff position.
The 2nd round of the draft should not be underrated for the Canadiens as they have made some excellent selections since the lock out selecting many NHL contributors such as Guillaume Latendresse, P.K Subban and the jury is still out on the 21 year old Danny Kristo. Montreal also picked up Blake Geoffrion who is the 1st 4th generation NHL player. Blake could eventually become a solid addition to the Canadiens bottom six as he brings both size and speed to the mix. Blake has had a less than impressive season scoring just 3 goals and adding only 13 assists in his 44 professional games in 2011-2012 split between Nashville, Milwaukee and now Hamilton. Nashville still saw something in him though as the Canadiens will have to give up a conditional pick in 2013 should Blake play 40+ games in Montreal next year.
Our forum members also had some thoughts on the move, here is a small sampling of their thoughts:
bbp: "This is higher value then I'm pretty sure any of us would have guessed. I don't know if anyone said this, but lets give credit to where credit is due. Good Job Pierre Gauthier. That is a excellent trade, maximized value for sure right there. I really think this is one of those trades you would qualify as a great trade. Something people have been saying has been missing from Gauthier's resume. Awesome trade."
BCHabnut: "Gill was a great penalty killer and a great mentor for Gorges and Subban. You thought Nashville was a defensive juggernaut last playoff? Here's hoping that Geoffrion plays with Cole and learns to be a power forward. Just as Gorges played with Gill and perfected the shutdown role. I don't see it though. Don't expect a bunch from baby boom boom. Basically this trade was Gill for a 2nd with a bunch of other guys around."
Commandant: "Geoffrion is more than just a name to appease RDS and more than just another Ben Maxwell. He's a former Hobey Baker winner. He's got talent and that was seen in his callup last season for the Preds. This is a guy who has legit talent, we just need to see if we can get him to show it. He's more than a scrub with a fancy last name, he's a legit prospect. Now not all prospects work out, I know that, but give the kid a chance."
Habsfan84: "Great return for the Habs on this one. I would of been happy with just the 2nd rounder, but two bodies as well dont hurt. I hope Geoffrion turns into something to make this trade even better. A bit sad to see Gill go. He was a great mentor and did everything asked of him in his time in Montreal. Good luck in Nashiville Gill. I'm sure he will be missed."
Machine of Loving Grace: "I really hope people keep their expectations about Blake in check. He does have some really great tangibles. Fantastic skater, good energy, good slapper (hmmm wonder why) and he's a smart two way player you can put on the bottom six and not complain much. However, he hasn't shown much of a scoring touch yet in the NHL. That doesn't mean he'll never have one but right now he's an excellent college player (Hobby Baker winner) still finding his NHL game. He'll be fantastic for our bottom six and Nashville will likely get that conditional fifth."
You can have your say on the trade by adding your thoughts to our ongoing forum discussion on the move.
- Hal Gill headed to Nashville posted by Mitchell Tierney