The Nashville Predators have jumped into the NHL trade market in a big way, landing giant defenseman Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens, but the price will strike many as pretty dear. Cue Josh Cooper of the Tennessean, and ESPN's Pierre LeBrun with a clarification:
If Geoffrion gets 40 gp in Montreal next year, Nashville gets that fifth-round pick. If he doesn't play in that many games, no pick for Nash— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 17, 2012
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Earlier this month, we speculated on the possibility of picking up Gill to add size, strength and experience to the left side of the Nashville blueline, and this move shores up that group pretty well.
What Hal Gill Would Bring To The Predators
For one thing, there would finally be someone in the locker room who could look down at the goalies.
Mostly, however, Gill brings a massive physical presence, which would be well suited to playing stay-at-home hockey supporting one of the young guns like Josi or Ellis, while taking some of the penalty killing burden off of Weber & Suter. Gill currently leads Montreal in shorthanded ice time per game, and they've got one of the better units in the league, so he can be relied upon in that sort of specialist role.
He's not an offensive force, but that's something the young guys are doing rather well already (especially Josi on the power play).
With Gill's experience (including a Stanley Cup in 2009 with Pittsburgh), I'd go with a 2nd-round pick. If a bidding war gets going, it may be worth throwing in a minor prospect as well.
The price here is a little higher than I projected, but within reason. I'm not sure how much of an NHL upside Blake has, and Robert Slaney wasn't really on a track to the big leagues, certainly not with the crop of defensemen the Preds have developing already.
Bye Bye, Boomer
Many fans, however, will be upset to see Blake Geoffrion heading out of the organization. As the homegrown kid who made it to the NHL, he will always enjoy a prominent spot in Nashville Predators history, but this season hasn't worked out well for him. After a splash during last season's stretch drive, he could never get on track at the NHL level this time around and has played mostly with Milwaukee. I have to wonder if his name and pedigree hold special value to the Canadiens organization, and obviously we all wish Boomer the best of luck.
As a parting tribute to Blake, let's recall his incredible hat trick last March in Buffalo, which helped ignite the Preds' run to the playoffs:
An excerpt from the Preds' press release follows:
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired veteran defenseman Hal Gill and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft from Montreal in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft and forwards Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney. He is expected to meet the team today in Detroit.
"Hal Gill brings our team a number of elements - size, penalty-killing ability, depth on defense and playoff experience," Poile said. "He has won a Stanley Cup and played a combined 69 playoff games over the last four years, experience that significantly benefits our team."
Gill, 36 (4/6/75), has suited up for 1,047 regular-season games (36g-143a-179pts, 940 PIMs) and 105 playoff contests (0g-6a-6pts, 68 PIMs) since 1997-98 - more than any player currently on the Predators roster. He appeared in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 with Pittsburgh, winning the Cup in 2009. One of the League's tallest players at 6-7, 240 pounds, Gill has eight points (1g-7a) and 29 penalty minutes thus far in 2011-12 playing in his third season with the Canadiens.
The Concord, Mass., native was drafted 207th overall (eighth round) by Boston in the 1993 Entry Draft, and played eight seasons with the Bruins (1997-2006) before stints in Toronto and (2006-08) Pittsburgh (2007-09).
The Predators now have eight draft picks for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft to be held June 22-23, 2012 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. - their own picks in the first, and fourth through seventh rounds, in addition Toronto's third-round pick, Phoenix's fourth rounder and the New York Rangers' sixth-round selection.