As the Nashville Predators take the ice against the Detroit Red Wings, they understand the importance of this game. Red Wings were looking to extend their winning streak at home to 22 straight games, and did so with 5 seconds left as Pavel Datsyuk knocks one past Pekka Rinne’s blocker.
But more importantly, as the Trade Deadline approaches (February 27th) it is surprising to see the Predators make a move with a player who isn’t part of the Big Three. Blake Geoffrion (LW), prospect Robert Slaney (LW), and a second-round draft pick for the 2012 Entry Draft were sent to Montreal Canadiens in return for Hal Gill (D) and conditional 2013 fifth-round draft pick. While Gill was in Detroit tonight, not dress to play, Geoffrion was sent to Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL.
Before leaving Nashville, Geoffrion played in 22 NHL games this season, and racked up 3 points, all three in assists. Slaney played 9 games this season for the Milwaukee Admirals after arriving from the Toronto Marlies this summer. Meanwhile Hal Gill has played in 55 games this season with the Canadiens and has the experience of being on a Stanley Cup winning team (2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins).
Looking at this trade leads me to two questions, 1) Are the Habs expecting the return of Boom Boom Geoffrion? 2) With the arrival of Gill, does this mean the departure of Ryan Suter or Shea Weber? Whether or not Blake will follow in the footsteps of three previous Geoffrions is now the Canadiens problem, question two is more important for the Predators at this point.
With the fate of Ryan Suter (UFA this summer) and Shea Weber (RFA this summer) the signing of Hal Gill seems to send a clear message. If Suter and Weber don’t come to an agreement with the team, they are more than capable of moving forward without them. That being said, I think there’s another message being sent, that the team has a commitment to winning. While the youth of Geoffrion and Slaney would be nice to build on, the experience of Gill might be the push this team needs to get moving when it comes time for the second round of the play offs.
As the clock ticks down, 10 days until the Trade Deadline, and a nice spot as 5th in the Western Conference, the Predators are one to watch over the next few days.
With the Predators next game not until Sunday, against the Dallas Stars, should be interesting to see how Gill works into the team.