ATLANTA – Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.
There were no blockbuster deals coming out of Montreal on Monday, mostly because Habs GM Pierre Gauthier has been hard at work tweaking his roster since dealing Ryan O’Byrne to Colorado in mid November. After adding James Wisniewski, Paul Mara and Brent Sopel to the mix over the past two months, the Canadiens won’t be adding any more new faces to the locker room this season.
“There are always a lot of talks at this time of the year, but a lot of what’s happened today – and especially how little was happening across the league – was the result of things happening over the last few weeks. There were only 16 trades today and four of them didn’t even include any NHL players. That’s not very many,” explained Gauthier, whose only deadline deal was the acquisition of minor league netminder Drew MacIntyre for Brett Festerling on Monday afternoon.
“[The trade deadline] is always busy because it’s our duty to look at everything that’s out there,” he said. “But in the end, a lot of things were done earlier around the league this year over the past few weeks leading up to today.”
Having already lost defensemen Andrei Markov
and Josh Gorges
for the season and with fellow rearguard Jaroslav Spacek also currently out with an injury, Gauthier has had his hands full looking to shore up his blue line over the past few months.
“I feel like the guy who saves up all his vacation time and all of his money to take a nice trip in the summer, but he winds up seeing that his roof is leaking so he spends his whole summer and all of his money fixing the roof instead,” he mused. “We were probably in a position earlier in the year where we had some assets and the financial resources to see if we could do something to improve the club. We wound up patching things up as we went along instead. Even today, with the deal we made to acquire MacIntyre, it was because [Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Curtis] Sanford has incurred an injury and we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
With GMs everywhere looking to add one or two final pieces to their playoff puzzles, some teams can wind up paying a premium for some short-term help. The Canadiens weren’t about to become one of them.
“For sure there were some options but it all depends what kind of price you want to pay. And we’ve made 10 changes since this time last year here which is a lot,” reminded Gauthier. “You want to keep your chemistry and keep your group together, so you have to be careful not to make too many changes. When you make trades for the sake of making trades or you’re making lateral moves, that’s not always the best thing.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he added with a smile. “Everybody does their own thing and when there are draft picks and young players involved, those are things you’re only able to evaluate over time so we’ll see.”
Without needing to hit the phones or give up any blue chip prospects in return, Gauthier also saw one of the league’s top snipers added to his lineup recently.
“One big point to mention is we just got Cammalleri back,” he said of the Habs’ sharp-shooter who missed four weeks with a separated shoulder. “That’s a strong addition to the club. Right now, we like the leadership group in combination with the young players we have. It’s a balance that we like because the young guys can obviously keep improving and the veterans haven’t been here that long either.
“We’re tough to play against primarily because of our speed, our strong systematic play and our level of cohesion,” added Gauther. “For sure we’re going to come up against teams that are more physical than we are, but there are things that balance that out depending on who you match up with. We all have our distinct identities.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.ALSO READ:Habs acquire Drew MacIntyre The Deadline ApprochesHabs This Week - Feb. 28, 2011 20/20 vision