News surfaced last week that Montreal Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill was traded to the Nashville Predators. While the move has turned heads across the NHL in the hopes that Preds star blue liner Ryan Suter will be moved before the Feb. 27 deadline, it will only have the opposite effect in Nashville.
Despite Nashville having the most feared defensive pairing in the league, 21-year-olds Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi have both emerged onto the second and third lines this year and it's unclear how reliable they will be down the stretch.
A Stanley Cup winner and a seasoned vet, Gill gives the Preds stability and force defensively after the Suter and Weber line. GM David Poile addressed a key need on his team's roster, even if it isn't an apparent one to the rest of the league.
Gill is a shot-blocking machine, averaging the most blocks per 60 minutes played this season. His expertise is on the penalty kill, where the Preds are in the bottom-half of the league.
At 6'7", Gill injects force and a stay-at-home mentality into a Nashville defense that is mobile and sometimes sporadic when their top line isn't on the ice. Alongside young Josi, who likes to roam on the offensive end, Gill would be a good fit.
It also cannot be ignored what the Preds gave up for the 36-year-old blue liner. They traded Blake Geoffrion and a conditional second-round pick, while receiving a fifth-round pick and Gill.
Geoffrion, a young talent at center, emerged on the Preds' fourth-line late last season in their run to the Western Conference semifinals. So far this season, he had disappointed to say the least, and found his way back to AHL affiliate Milwaukee prior to the trade.
Is the Hal Gill trade good or bad for Nashville in terms of keeping Suter?
If the Preds were looking to rebuild and replace Suter, they would've been more likely to go after a young guy with big potential such as Luke Schenn.
Picking up a 36-year-old with a Stanley Cup already on file is a move that says, "we're going all in, right now," not, "we're rebuilding for the future". And Poile knows part of going all in includes his Norris Trophy candidates Weber and Suter.
Trading young talent and valuable draft picks isn't very characteristic of Poile and Nashville. And while it isn't a big splash just yet, it was a move that makes Nashville seemingly more consistent and reliable from top to bottom.
In a perfect world, the Preds aren't done in the market and would still be looking to get after a big scorer such as Jeff Carter or Ales Hemsky. They could also add a solid forward with top-six potential such as Andrei Kostitsyn (who would join his brother, Sergei) or Mikhail Grabovski. But whether they make such a move or not, they're in a position to compete in the playoffs.
Fans from across the NHL hoping to add Suter to their roster before the Feb. 27 trade deadline will have to look elsewhere to bolster their blue line before the playoffs. The Preds are heading in a direction to make some noise in this year's playoffs, and are a decent forward away from convincing him to stay long term.