"A wizard should know better!" - Frederick Breedon
The Massachusetts Redwood, endearingly known around the Preds-telligentsia as "Treebeard," returns for a second season after being acquired from Montreal at last year's trade deadline. His looming size, age, and leadership ability should provide invaluable support to the penalty kill and the defensive corps as a whole in Ryan Suter's absence.
Ahead of the 2012 trade deadline, David Poile dealt homegrown and highly-hockey-pedigreed forward Blake Geoffrion, prospect Robert Slaney, and a second round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft in exchange for Hal Gill and a conditional fifth round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft.
Some thought the cost of the trade was a little too high, especially since fans had grown attached to "Boomer" as a sort of reason to thumb the collective SMASHville nose at everyone who said Tennessee could never produce NHL talent. But there Geoffrion went. Nothing much changed statistically speaking about Gill's game as he made the transition from the Bell Centre to the Bridge. Barry Trotz did use Gill about 1:20 per game longer than either Jacques Martin or Randy Cunneyworth had in Montreal, but that still didn't amount to the same number of minutes Gill played when he was perhaps a little more spry. Nevertheless, his presence on the back end provided a little bit of a break for Nashville's first pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter down the stretch and into the playoffs, and Gill's impact on the penalty kill could be felt almost immediately.
Gill also played a portion of the playoffs with a broken leg.
Overall, Gill's performance was good enough to merit an offer of extension in Nashville -- 2 years/$4 million -- a deal to which he agreed just ahead of the opening of Free Agency last summer.
Gill's contract extension, along with the signing of league veteran Scott Hannan (preview here), will give the Predators an opportunity to bring along some of their younger defensive talent maybe a little more quickly than they might otherwise have been able to do. Their leadership will be welcomed in the locker room and in practice. Don't expect Gill to score a lot of (maybe 10) points, but don't expect him to take many penalties either -- and remember, when he takes the ice for the PK, that he's the kind and size of guy who can literally just lean on another guy, and force him to cough up the puck. Nashville should get more than they bargained for in terms of production like that over the next two seasons.
Is Gill still able to play enough minutes to give the top two pairings a decent-sized break?