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Canadiens Quick Hits

Word is coming out from the Canadiens practice this morning that Ryan White has jumped on the ice according to La Presse beat-writer Marc Antoine Godin‘s twitter feed.

For those who don’t recall White, here’s his Gordie Howe hat-trick White\’s Gordie Howe Hat Trick against Minnesota. If he does in fact play, either tonight against the Pens or relatively soon, he should bring some added grit to the bottom two lines. I would contemplate sitting Nokelainen or Darche on the fourth line to make room for him.

Another item of interest this morning is the speculation that Hal Gill will not be finishing the season with the Canadiens. The 6’7 defensive D and shorthanded specialist would be an asset to any contender. He recently won a Stanley Cup in his second year with the Penguins, then signed a 2 year, $4.5 million deal with the Habs and was extended for an additional year in the offseason last year.

Gill is one of the premier penalty-killing specialists in the league. Habs fans are well aware of his ability to simply lie down on the ice and have his wingspan prevent cross-ice, cross-crease passes from happening. With his status as a UFA at the end of the season, Gill would be a solid pick-up for a playoff bound team requiring some defensive depth, particularly with regards to improving the P.K unit. Godin, in his La Presse article, suggests that the Flyers, Blackhawks and Sharks would likely be interested in the 37 year-old veteran.

If you need further convincing, under Cunneyworth, Gill has seen his ice-time drop, particularly at even-strength. Whether it has been effective is arguable (particularly if we consider wins-losses as evidence), but Gill is increasingly seeing the ice less and less in even-strength situations, while still receiving a large share of P.K time. His ice-time against the Caps was only about 8:55, but to be fair, the Habs spent most of the game on their futile power play.

Where the contrast is greatest is between his time in the Martin era, where he was averaging closer to 20-22 minutes per game, to currently where he averages between 12-16 mins per game. This may be to keep him fresh, but I think at this point, his effectiveness in even-strength is simply diminishing.

I would imagine that Gill‘s services would cost a second round pick, or something in that general vicinity. His leadership and P.K work will definitely be missed if he is traded.

Finally, there has been some speculation about Pierre Gauthier taking in both the Nashville-Rangers game and the Phoenix-Anaheim game recently. Couple this with the whispers that Subban is actually being shopped (an absolutely terrible idea unless it’s to get a bonafide, young, big center – those don’t grow on trees), and it’s definitely interesting news. Though most would pray that it would be to land either Suter/Weber out of Nashville, or Getzlaf/Ryan out of Anaheim, I don’t feel that Habs management has given up quite yet.

Perhaps the prudent thing to do would be to go for the rebuild now, but I feel that Gauthier has received the green light to make changes to improve his team, not dismantle them. The fact that he took on salary and term with the Kaberle trade, that he traded Cammalleri for a player with a longer contract [albeit cheaper, bigger and more useful than the edition of Cammalleri that showed up this year] would indicate that Gauthier has the full support of Geoff Molson. That being said, I will be pleasantly surprised if he is let go in the offseason for a wholesale organizational shift.

I have a feeling that we will likely see a few trades, but probably veterans shipped out for mid-round picks and potentially a Kostitsyn trade. That last one is contingent on whether the Habs feel he has a future with the organization, but the potential return may be an interesting proposition for Habs management.

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