The Montreal Canadiens have finally traded Josh Gorges within the division, but apparently not to the Toronto Maple Leafs as was rumored yesterday. Darren Dreger announced on TSN Free Agent Frenzy that the Habs have moved their defensive defender to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Canadiens will receive a 2016 2nd round pick in return.
This is purely a cap dump for the Canadiens, as Gorges was set to earn 3.9 million dollars for the next four seasons. The Canadiens obviously wanted to save a few dollars after the cap came it at a slightly lower limit than was speculated.
Gorges is a veteran of 560 NHL games split between the Canadiens and San Jose Sharks, but was best known for his defensive play. Gorges was a key member of the Habs penalty killing unit for the past seven seasons, after being acquired from the Sharks along with Max Pacioretty, for Craig Rivet.
Gorges was a heart and soul type of player who was regularly among the NHL leaders in shot blocks, and was a known leader in the Canadiens dressing room. He was a likely candidate to be the Habs next captain with Brian Gionta hitting the open market, but clearly the Canadiens leadership is going in a different direction.
It is a bit of a curious move, as the Canadiens could have stayed under the cap with Gorges, and he was a very likable and productive player. He was the regular defence partner of P.K. Subban, and with Mike Weaver, Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray on the way out, the Habs have lost several defenders who killed penalties last season.
The freed up cap space being the biggest advantage to the Habs in this deal makes you wonder if they are in on a big name free agent, and needed to come up with a little extra cap space to make it work.