General Manager Bob Gainey made his first trade of the regular season Sunday evening when he sent defenseman Craig Rivet and a 2008 fifth round draft pick to the San Jose Sharks for a 2007 first round draft pick and 22-year-old defenseman Josh Gorges.
Rivet was scheduled to return to the line-up Monday night to face to Toronto Maple Leafs after missing the last 9 games with pneumonia, but will be on his way to San Jose instead. In 54 games with the Habs this season, Rivet scored 6 goals and added 10 assists for 16 points and had a rating of minus-7.
The 32-year-old was drafted in the third round, 68th overall, by the Montreal Canadiens in 1992 and spent 12 seasons with the team. Rivet was an assistant captain with the Montreal Canadiens, and leaves behind several good friends, including captain Saku Koivu.
Josh Gorges is currently in his second NHL season. The Kelowna, B.C. native has 4 points in 47 games this season with a minus-2 rating. Last season, Gorges played 49 games where he picked up his first 6 assists of his career and a plus-5 rating. The defenseman comes in at 6’1 and 190pds.
The deal rids Montreal of one of their many pending UFAs and potentially gives Gainey the cap room he would need to re-sign some of those free agents such as Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov, and Radek Bonk. Gorges’ contract only calls for a $450,000 payment per year, a definite drop from the $2,470,000 Rivet was making this season.
There was speculation that Rivet may be moved after Head Coach Guy Carbonneau made the veteran a healthy scratch on January 16th, a move that disappointed Rivet. Rivet was a valuable leader both on and off the ice for the Montreal Canadiens over his time with the team, which means several players will need to play a larger role in that department to make up for the loss.
With less than 48 hours remaining before the Trade Deadline on Tuesday, it is uncertain as to whether or not this is the last move Gainey will make. There is still question as to if Souray is on the market or not and with the returns for rental players being so attractive, it would be hard to ignore a solid offer for a player that you may lose for nothing at the end of the season for nothing.