On Tuesday, GM Pierre Gauthier made a surprising splash on the trade market,
acquiring James Wisniewski from the Islanders. The fact he made a trade
wasn’t the surprising part but rather Wisniewski, who was rarely ever mentioned
amongst the possible blueliners out there. Now that we’ve had time to
ponder the move, our writers weigh in with their opinions.
Mark Della Posta: The Wisniewski trade brings about a few very
important questions. Firstly, what does this move for Subban and/or Weber? Now
that Martin has a more seasoned option to help run the power play, how much more
will we see the two rookies? Also, is this a short term move, or is Wisniewski
part of the team’s more long-term plans? With Roman Hamrlik and Hal Gill both
having contracts coming up at the end of the season, it’s possible that Gauthier
is pegging Wisniewski to eventually replace the Czech d-man on the team’s
Overall, the move helps the team in the short-term. Wisniewski has a booming
shot, and plays a physical style reminiscent of Francis Bouillon. Unfortunately,
it’s doubtful that the Canadiens will be able to resign the Michigan native.
Wisniewski is on pace to break his season high in points and will likely win
himself a significant raise in the offseason. With Markov and Gorges’ contracts
also coming up, his future with the Habs looks cloudy at best. The Canadiens may
have just shipped away a mid-second round pick for bandage that, though it may
prove useful, still won’t help them beat the Flyers.
Matt Dilworth: A recurrent theme emerged over the past few games, coinciding with the 0.25
winning percentage hockey Montreal was playing: the defense just wasn’t good enough. Markov was
gone, Gorges was playing through injuries, Hamrlik and Spacek were minutes
away from old age catching up and it was evident that neither Subban, Weber or
Picard had enough experience. With all that being said, it should be obvious
that I’m quite pleased with the acquisition of Wisniewski. Without
surrendering too much, Montreal gains a young veteran defenseman, capable of
playing big minutes in any situation and is a right-handed shot. Furthermore,
Wisniewski gives the Canadiens another option on the powerplay, as he will
contend for the best shot from the blueline. Finally, the Habs aren’t saddled
with an unwieldy contract, and can cut Wisniewski loose at year’s end if
he doesn’t work out.
I fully expect the acquisition of Wisniewski to trigger
a demotion back to Hamilton for either Subban or Weber. It is crucial for the
development of these two young defenders to play sufficient minutes, and this
wasn’t happening in Montreal. I assume that Picard will become the 7th
defenseman and either Subban or Weber will get more playing time in Hamilton.
For me, this alone makes this move appealing, as I thought it was senseless to
have a talented young player missing multiple games, and thus hindering his
development. I don’t think that the acquisition of Wisniewski will solve all of
Montreal’s problems, but it certainly addressed a glaring necessity on the
blueline. "The Wiz" is no saviour (as his -18 on the year will attest), but
his impact, however small, will be beneficial.
Brian La Rose: Wisniewski is certainly an upgrade to the defence
corps and brings some needed elements to the table. I also like the fact
that the team will get more out of its second round pick than a couple of
months of action (Dominic Moore last season). This isn’t an outright
steal by the Habs as many are making it out to be though. Wisniewski’s
offensive numbers are artificially inflated by an unsustainable streak to
start the year (11 points in 7 games) and the fact the Islanders basically had
no one else. He may have been the Isles’ top blueliner but that doesn’t
make him a top pairing guy in Montreal, or anywhere else for that matter.
He is, at best, a good #4 d-man which is why Anaheim was unwilling to pay him
his arbitration award less than four months ago. He’ll surely help the
cause given the current condition of the defence and if he manages to sustain
his point pace and be a boon for the PP, then it can be called a great deal.
Not yet though.
As an aside, I know most are chastizing New York GM Garth Snow for selling
low but it’s really quite the opposite. He turned a conditional 3rd
round pick into a 2nd and possibly a 5th in a matter of a few months.
Unconventional yes, but that’s not a bad way to build up a team’s long-term
asset base, a classic case of buy low, sell high(er).
Louis Moustakas: In the short-term, Wisniewski brings speed, scoring
and physicality to an increasingly depleted top-six. He has certainly proven
himself an effective weapon on the powerplay, as he has demonstrated versus
the Habs this season. Ranking fourth on the Islanders in hits and being the
central figure in some other well documented gestures, the American rearguard
also brings a grittier dimension to the backend. However, it is hard not to be
slightly weary of a player who has bounced around so much at such a young age.
Furthermore, Wisniewski is an impending UFA and, after sacrificing a
first-round pick for Alex Tanguay, a second-round selection for Dominic Moore
and two more picks in this trade, it would be nice to see those high draft
choices converted into longer-term solutions.
Have your say on the trade! Be sure to vote on our trade poll in the
left hand column as well as post your comments on our