NHL experts wonder if the financially constrained Nashville Predators will be able to lock cornerstone defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter into long-term deals.
So it was a bit surprising to see Predators GM David Poile add still another defenseman with an expiring contract – big Hal Gill, who arrived from Montreal in a trade for forwards Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney and a second-round pick. Nashville also received a conditional fifth-round pick in that deal.
Gill is a defensive defenseman, known for his wingspan (he stands 6-foot-7) and his shot-blocking ability.
“The best high you can ever have is being in that situation where the game is on the line,” Gill told the Tennessean newspaper. “That’s where I love the game. If we have to kill a penalty, and we’re up a goal and there’s a minute and a half left, that’s where I love the game. That’s where the challenge is there.”
Poile was willing to pay a premium to add a shut-down defender for the short term. He made the deal with his team sitting fifth overall in the Western Conference, but facing a strong challenge from the resurgent Blackhawks.
The Predators win with strong team defense and brilliant goaltending by Pekka Rinne. Gill’s ability to neutralize opposing power forwards should help that cause.
“This is why we made the deal, his ability to play against top forwards,” Poile told the Tennessean. “Usually most of the forwards we’re talking about are bigger forwards. His size, his range, his experience will certainly help in that area.”
This trade sent a clear signal that Tennessee will remain in “buy” mode as the NHL trade deadline nears.