Montreal shipped defenseman Hal Gill, along with a conditional fifth round pick in the 2013 draft, to Central Division rival Nashville on Friday. Montreal received prospects Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney, as well as a second round pick in this year’s draft. The trade has unofficially opened this year’s trade season, as the first big name on the market has moved from a seller, in the Canadiens, to a contender, in the Predators.
Gill will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and, at age thirty-six, most likely wouldn’t have been resigned by Montreal. Currently in thirteenth place in the Eastern Conference, Montreal saw an opportunity to get younger by moving Gill and took action. This trade established the Canadiens as sellers who are actively trying to get younger and rebuild. Look for Montreal to make more moves before the trade deadline, as forwards Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitsyn have also been rumored to be on the market.
With the Acquisition of Gill, the Predators have added veteran leadership to their young defensive core. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, two of the leagues best young, defensive talents will undoubtedly benefit from the Stanley Cup winner’s leadership in the locker room throughout the divisional race and playoffs. There’s no question that the addition of Gill will benefit Nashville on the ice. Considered one of the league’s best shot-blockers, Gill will certainly bolster Nashville’s penalty-kill, currently ranked sixteenth in the league. He will likely play alongside Roman Josi on the Predators’ second defensive pairing.
Nashville has made two things clear with this move; they are serious about contending for the Cup and are willing to spend in order to keep free agents Weber and Suter. Nashville’s management is making moves and is in the process of transitioning the small market Predators into a championship organization.