Deadline dealings

Monday, 27.02.2012 / 8:30 PM / News
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Deadline dealings

TAMPA BAY – With more chips in the bank and grit on the frontlines, Pierre Gauthier discusses his moves leading up to the trade deadline.

Ready and active since the break of day, Canadiens general manager, Pierre Gauthier didn’t wait for the 3:00 p.m. deadline before setting in motion what would ultimately be the team’s most significant move of the day. After seven seasons as a member of the Canadiens, the Montreal organization parted ways with forward Andrei Kostitsyn, who will join Hal Gill and his brother, Sergei, in Nashville.

Pierre Gauthier presser

“When I talked to him he was very appreciative and very respectful of the time he played here. He was an original draft pick, and it wasn’t easy to trade Andrei – he’s a good guy and we really appreciated having him with the club,” expressed the Habs GM of the team’s 2003 first-round draft pick, dispelling any rumors that the Belarus native had requested the trade.

“Mr. Kostitsyn told us very clearly that he loved playing for the Montreal Canadiens. It was his original club and he did very well here over the course of his career. Maybe he was a little bit of a streaky player, but in the end he was a positive for us,” continued Gauthier, who in exchange for Kostitsyn was dealt a 2nd round draft pick in 2013. “When we get to this time of year, we try and evaluate how we’re going to move forward. We thought Andrei was going to be part of our work today – it was our decision, and that’s why we made the trade.”

In trading the older of the Kostitsyn brothers, Gauthier not only acquired another draft pick for the future, but also, from another point of view, another bargaining chip to put into play should a situation present itself. With his latest transaction, the Canadiens now have three second-round picks in the 2013 draft at their disposal.

“There are two ways to think about it,” began Gauthier, offering some insight into some potential strategy for the future. “If you’re going to the draft with a draft pick, it’s a good thing to get a pick for this year. But if you want some chips to play during the next season or at the next trade deadline, you’re better off with picks for the following year.

“In our case, we now have an extra pick in the coming draft, and two extra picks in the following one,” added Gauthier underlining his teams growing options moving forward. “We have a number of chips to play with in order to continue growing the team in the middle and long term – but also possibly in the short term too.”

Not only did the Canadiens general manager pick up some chips that could possibly played in the years to come, but in nabbing Brad Staubitz off waivers, also added a tough-as-nails forward to the team’s current make-up.

“We needed to balance the size on our team, especially among our forwards. Mr. Pacioretty joined us last year, Mr. Cole over the summer, and then Mr. Bourque came in a trade,” explained Gauthier. “Mr. Staubitz has got a different role – I think we know what he does – but hopefully he can contribute to that rebalancing of the group of forwards.”

For those unfamiliar with Staubitz, the role referred to by the Habs GM is evident in the gritty winger’s numbers. In 196 games in the NHL, the one-time defenseman now converted to a forward, has racked up a staggering 432 penalty minutes. Fans interested in seeing Montreal’s latest acquisition in action won’t have to wait long. Staubitz is slated to join the Habs in Tampa Bay, donning the No. 25 for the squad’s Tuesday morning skate.

The Canadiens’ also saw a few moves made from within the organization on Monday. After a healthy stint with the Montreal club, Louis Leblanc was reassigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs. While Blake Geoffrion, acquired as part of the Hal Gill trade, will join the Habs.

“We needed to decide what would be the best lineup for the next few games. We felt that Mr. Geoffrion and Mr. Palushaj being called up was the way to go, while Louis Leblanc will go back to Hamilton and be able to keep growing,” added the Habs GM, while also reminding the media that it’s only a matter of time before further reinforcements arrive from within.

“We wanted to make this team as competitive as possible moving forward. We wanted to get them rolling again and build up their confidence again, finished Gauthier. “As we looked at the roster and put the 24 players that we have here, we felt comfortable with that. As Mr. Moen, Mr. Markov, Mr. Darche and hopefully maybe even Mr. Blunden and Mr. Gionta down the line recover – we hope to bring these people back and strengthen the group even further.”

With 19 games remaining in the regular season, the Canadiens will get their first post-deadline test Tuesday night versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com

SEE ALSO
Canadiens trade forward Andrei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators
Hal Gill traded to Nashville
The waiting game