The Penguins wanted to add another physical defenseman to their roster.
They did exactly that Tuesday at the NHL Trade Deadline with the acquisition of Hal Gill from Toronto.
Gill, listed at 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, brings an imposing physical presence to Pittsburgh’s blue line. And, he’s excited to join his new teammates.
“Definitely. It’s a new experience. I have never been traded before,” he said via cell phone. “I am excited. It’s something new and I am excited to take that challenge.”
Gill, a Concord, Mass., native will make his Penguins debut Thursday near his hometown – Boston – against the team that drafted him in the eighth round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
“The Penguins are definitely a team that has a chance to win. For sure, I am excited about that,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent and hopefully I can fit it and fill my role well there.”
Gill, a 10-year veteran, was pleasantly surprised to find out he was traded to the Penguins.
“I heard some rumors about it. Usually, those rumors come and go and it never amounts to anything,” he said. “But, I was pretty surprised. It’s tough when you’re with a team and you have to leave, but it’s also exciting there’s something new out there to try out.”
He is excited to join a talented young Penguins squad, which has one of the best records in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s changing the way I am looking at things now. It’s exciting. In Toronto, we’re kind of on the outside looking in [on the playoff race],” he said. “To be able to have a chance to go and win some more games down the line and put ourselves in a good spot for the playoffs is great.”
In addition, Gill looks forward to playing with guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Ryan Malone and Petr Sykora instead of against them.
“opefully I can fit in and do my I don’t have to chase those guys around now, rather I get to watch them and let other guys chase them around,” he said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of good skill guys on that team and they are tough to against, so I am sure it will be a lot more fun to play with them.”
He’s looking forward to joining another big acquisition – Marian Hossa – in Pittsburgh.
“Absolutely. He is someone that’s tough to play against,” he said. “It’ll be nice to watch him and not have to worry about stopping him.”
Gill hopes his veteran presence will help some of the Penguins’ young defensemen like Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Whitney and Kris Letang.
“I have been around for a while,” he said. “I hope to be as steady as I can and help out the young guys when I can.”