|FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2011, file photo, Nashville Predators left wing Blake Geoffrion moves the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks, in San Jose, Calif. Geoffrion, the grandson of Montreal Canadiens legend Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, was traded to the Canadiens along with forward Robert Slaney for defenseman Hal Gill and a conditional fifth-round pick. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)|
Canadiens send Gill to Predators for Geoffrion
MONTREAL—The Montreal Canadiens made it official Friday that they will be sellers leading up to the NHL trade deadline, dealing defenseman Hal Gill to the Nashville Predators for a draft pick and a piece of their history in the grandson of late Hall of Famer Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.
Montreal sent Gill and a conditional 2013 fifth-round draft pick to Nashville for Blake Geoffrion, prospect Robert Slaney and a 2012 second-round pick.
But Geoffrion will have to wait to don a Montreal jersey after the Canadiens assigned him to Hamilton of the American Hockey League.
The Canadiens' chances of making the playoffs are minimal. Now that they've made a deal, it wouldn't be a surprise if they move other veterans before the Feb. 27 deadline, including winger Travis Moen and perhaps forward Andrei Kostitsyn or defenseman Chris Campoli.
The 24-year-old Geoffrion's bloodlines are more impressive than his NHL resume, which includes six goals and five assists in 42 games over two seasons. His great-grandfather was Canadiens great Howie Morenz, and his father, Dan Geoffrion, also played in the NHL.
The surprise was that the Predators' traded him. Geoffrion was born in Florida, but grew up in Nashville.
"Wow..what a day...it's bitter-sweet, going to miss my hometown of Nashville, but going to where it all started with my family...MONTREAL!!!" he wrote on Twitter.
Geoffrion, whose great-grandfather and grandfather have banners hanging at the Bell Centre in honor of having their numbers retired, won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in U.S. college hockey in 2010 with Wisconsin. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward was drafted 56th overall by Nashville in 2006.
He has split the past two seasons between Nashville and Milwaukee in the AHL. He had only three assists in 22 NHL games this season before being returned to the AHL.
"If it wasn't for Montreal, the unique situation with his family, the history, all that stuff, I probably wouldn't have traded him," Predators general manager David Poile said. "It's extremely tough to do because of his obvious ties to Nashville. It was fabulous to have a local player here in Nashville."
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Slaney, a 23-year-old left winger, has 11 goals and seven assists in 30 games with Cincinnati of the ECHL.
Montreal got good value by acquiring a second-round pick for the 36-year-old Gill, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"You have to give up a lot to get (Gill) and we did," Poile said. "We needed a veteran defenseman with experience and size. I think that in Hal Gill, we get everything we were looking for."
The 6-foot-7 Gill signed with the Canadiens as a free agent in 2009 after helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win a Stanley Cup.
He was in Detroit on Friday night, but wasn't in the Predators' lineup against the Red Wings.
"I'm pretty happy to be here, but it's always a tough transition in leaving a team that you wanted to win with," Gill said. "I'm excited about the organization. "I think it's a great team. They have all the pieces in place to be successful. They're young and energetic."
He joins a talented young defense corps.
"We've got some studs and some young guys coming up," Gill said. "Hopefully, I can fit in the middle, maybe helping out the young guys."