On the day unrestricted agency opened up, the Buffalo Sabres’ first move was a trade.
The team acquired defenseman Josh Gorges from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Minnesota’s second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The pick was previously acquired with forward Torrey Mitchell and a 2014 second-round pick at this year’s trade deadline from Minnesota for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick.
Gorges, 29, said that ownership and new management in the front office made Buffalo a desirable destination.
“What they’ve been doing with that team and the direction they’re heading, I felt like it’s a good opportunity to go in there and help grow with a good young team,” he said on Tuesday. “I just think it’s a good fit for me and my family and we’re excited about it.”
This past weekend, the Canadiens asked Gorges to waive his no-trade clause. Buffalo was not originally on his list of approved teams, but he added them on Tuesday and a deal was done soon after.
“Obviously I knew my time in Montreal was over,” Gorges said. “So looking ahead, I wanted to re-evaluate the teams I had on the list and I think looking at Buffalo, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ted Nolan as a coach.”
The 6-foot-1, 201-pound defenseman appeared in 66 games for the Canadiens in 2013-14, recording 14 points (1+13) and 12 penalty minutes. In 560 NHL games spent with the Canadiens and the San Jose Sharks, the defenseman has amassed 98 points (14+84) and 249 penalty minutes. Gorges has four years left on a six-year deal he signed in 2012.
He played the past five seasons with former Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, who signed a three-year contract with Buffalo on Tuesday. He’s looking forward to being teammates with Gionta again.
“I’d already added Buffalo to my trade list before I knew that Brian was signed with the team,” Gorges said. “But it definitely makes things easier moving forward knowing how good of a friend he has been to me and the mentor he has been for me in the last five years playing with him.”
A native of Kelowna, British Columbia, Gorges has also appeared in 68 NHL playoff games, totaling nine assists and 35 penalty minutes.