Is Mathieu Schneider What the Montreal Canadiens Need?

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer IFebruary 17, 2009

Gone is two draft picks and in is a former face in the Montreal Canadiens locker room.

"There were other players that looked like they may be available," was Canadiens GM Bob Gainey's comments after acquiring former Stanley Cup winning defenseman Mathieu Schneider from the Atlanta Thrashers.

"It was just a matter of timing."

For the Canadiens, it could not have come at a better time.

Schneider joins a squad that is looking for consistency as the season begins to wind down towards the playoffs.  With his veteran presence and recent history in Montreal, his return to the team that picked him 44th overall in 1987.

After spending seven seasons in bleu, blanc, et rogue, including a Stanley Cup win in 1993, Schneider returns to a team that he was hoping that he could come back and play.

A two-time 20+ goal scorer, Schneider not only adds leadership and experience, but possesses great puck handling, passing, and defensive skills.

Yet, the question has to be asked: Is Mathieu Schneider what the Canadiens need?

Looking at the track record of Bob Gainey in the past few seasons, considering he let Sheldon Souray, Cristobal Huet, and most recently Mark Streit go for nothing besides one measly pick between the three, his approach at the trade deadline is going to be more pro-active and aggressive.

Gainey's been looking and looking long and hard.

Schneider popped on the Canadiens radar as soon as the question was asked about acquiring a top four defenseman.

When the Canadiens were amidst the Vincent Lecavalier and then Jay Bouwmeester rumours, the possibility of Schneider's return to Montreal seemed to be the closest move towards reality.

Now with the situation of a top four defenseman now out of the way, what's Gainey's next move?

From the standpoint of the Canadiens' current slump, there are other moves on the way.

Players such as Tomas Plekanec, Alex Kovalev, and Chris Higgins may have new addresses before the March 4th trade deadline.

The Canadiens may go after a big body up front, possibly a power forward, but may also go with a consistent face-off man such as Ottawa Senator's Antoine Vermette (57.6%) to replace the injured Robert Lang.

Power forwards are hard to come by and with the absence of Lang in the size and strength category, the Canadiens may be looking still for that impact player.

Either way, Gainey has made his first move and it's a not just good, it's smart.

Schneider was hoping that he would make his way back to Montreal.  And with him also being an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, the Canadiens could possibly afford to deal other defenseman away, such as Ryan O'Byrne, or afford a retirement possibly from Patrice Brisebois.

Nice first move Mr. Gainey.

And now we wait again.


Matt Eichel is a Community Leader for the Montreal Canadiens here on Bleacher Report along with Miah D. and Daniel Arouchain.  Matt also co-hosts Habs All Out Radio, a in-depth talk radio show devoted to all things Montreal Canadiens.

It airs weekly at and is hosted by Matt and Miah.