This afternoon, the Montreal Canadiens announced that they traded pending UFA Hal Gill and a conditional 5th round conditional pick in 2012 for Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a 2nd round pick in 2012.
The deal didn’t come as much of a surprise, as most pundits assumed Gill’s elite-penalty killing skills and Cup winning experience would be attractive to a contender. Coming off a one-year extension at $2,250,000, Gill would be prove to be a good investment for the Nashville Predators. Currently sitting at 5th in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, Nashville already had a vaunted defence with the likes of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Jonathon Blum and others. Now they can add an additional defensive presence, particularly with their penalty killing unit. Currently, the PK unit is ranked at the 16th spot at 79%. Gill was an integral piece of the Canadiens 1st place PK. In addition, Gill played a large role in Subban‘s development last season and is considered to be a key cog in the dressing room.
My initial reaction to the trade upon hearing the return was that Nashville slightly overpaid. I expected Gill to be traded for a 2nd round pick, but to get two prospects is a fairly good trade. The 2nd overall pick will probably be around the 50th overall, but considering the Canadiens haven’t had any picks in the 2nd round for the past two years, the sudden depth in draft picks is a good thing. In terms of the two players, the consensus around Robert Slaney is that he is slated to become a checking line left winger. He was originally obtained in the Cody Franson deal with the Leafs earlier in the summer, and will probably be suiting up for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
On the other hand, Blake Geoffrion raises some interesting questions. We’ll start with the part that’s getting the most attention – his pedigree. He is a the league’s first 4th generation NHL player. He is the son of Dan Geoffrion, who played three NHL seasons combined with the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets. His grandfather and great-grandfather were both elite Canadiens legends. His great-grandfather was the legendary Howie Morenz and his grandfather was the inventor of the slap-shot, Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion. Aside from that, Geoffrion is a 6’2 188lb left-handed center picked in the 2nd round at 56th overall in the 2006 Entry Draft. In 20 games played in the 2010-2011 season, he scored 6 goals and 2 assists for 8 points. This season has been significantly more difficult, with only 3 assists in 22 games. At the very least, the Canadiens got a prospect that may be able to relaunch his career. Even if he does not, getting this type of a return for a pending UFA d-man whose major strength is when on the PK is satisfying.
Just when I thought that Pierre Gauthier could do no right, he pulls this out of his hat. The rest of the trade deadline period should be interesting.