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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Although the Habs weren't overly busy at the NHL's Trade Deadline like many of us hoped, they did still get a pair of moves accomplished. Andrei Kostitsyn was dealt to the Predators while enforcer Brad Staubitz was acquired via the waiver wire. Having had time to ponder the moves, our writers offer up their thoughts.
Matt Dilworth: Given that the GM's in general seemed reluctant to part with any high draft picks at the Trade Deadline, I think we can be satisfied with the return that Kostitsyn garnered. It was no secret to Habs' fans that Andrei had been putting up one of his consistent inconsistent streaks up until that point, so the fact that Gauthier nabbed a second round pick is worthy of praise in my opinion. I have no doubt that some will bemoan this move and argue that Kostitsyn a) will suddenly evolve into a 35 goal scorer with a new coach, or b) would have signed for less than market value to stay in Montreal, but the truth is that no one can guarantee these things. Without the ability to foresee the future or read player's thoughts, obtaining a 2nd round pick for what has been a 20 goal scorer with marginal physical upside is fair value. As for Staubitz, he fills the need for a warm body in Montreal that can fight (and win!) against some heavyweights, but I don't think he will be a part of Montreal's future moving forward.
Brian La Rose: My reaction to the Kostitsyn deal is a resounding 'meh'. It's not an overpayment nor an underpayment, that's about what his value should have been given his struggles and impending UFA status. Adding a third pick in Round 2 of the 2013 draft is a bonus, not only is the depth of that class a little deeper but if the Habs do turn it around next year, they should be able to deal one for an upgrade without worrying too much about hurting the future. Although Staubitz wasn't directly part of the deal, he more or less was as the Kostitsyn trade opened up the contract spot that was used to claim him; had they made the move with Nashville after 12 PM, they wouldn't have got him. We all know what Staubitz brings to the table, this is a good opportunity for him to prove he belongs in the NHL beyond this season. I wouldn't have picked him up (I'd have rather kept the spot open for a possible NCAA signing to step in right away) but I don't think he'll hurt the team any in the few minutes he'll play each game. If he can deter some opponents from taking liberties, all the better.
Norm Szcyrek: I am content with the return on the Kostitsyn trade. The 2nd round pick will be helpful for a Habs team that is truly in a rebuilding/retooling mode now. The 2013 draft is supposed to be deeper than this season's draft, so the move should help whomever is running the team. Andrei's value among the rest of the league was at an all time low, since his production was down this season and his ice time was relatively cut because of that. Nashville seems like a good fit for Andrei, and them for him, given the rejuvenation of little brother Sergei's career since moving to the Predators. That factor alone certainly gives Nashville the edge in signing him before Andrei becomes a UFA this summer.
The move to acquire Brad Staubitz on waivers was a puzzling one. Montreal rarely ventures into the waiver waters, and less likely to do so to get a one dimensional pugilist like Staubitz. However, given the unknown return to play date of injured Travis Moen, perhaps the move is intended to give some insurance on the 4th line, in case Moen is lost for the rest of this season.
Mitchell Tierney: There is no doubt that Andrei Kostitsyn had to leave the club. He was an under performing player who was starting to bring the team down. As for the value of the deal I think it was in the range that it should be. A trade to compare this with would be the Antoine Vermette to Phoenix deal. Vermette is a player who is similar to Kostitsyn, with a bigger upside so far in his career and a contract beyond this season. For Vermette the Blue Jackets received the same price as the Habs did for Kostitsyn plus a career minor league goalie. A 1st round pick was probably a little too much to ask for Kostitsyn considering there was only one 1st round pick traded at this years deadline. That 1st went in the Paul Gaustad trade, meaning that if Travis Moen was on the market he probably would have gotten a comparable price.
Claiming Staubitz is a move that emphasizes the new direction the organization is moving in when it comes to player type. He is an enforcer, and will be the first one the Habs have had since Georges Laraque was bought out by the team. The Canadiens are paying Staubitz very little so it is a good experiment to see how his style of play fits into the roster. We will see very soon if it has a positive or negative impact. At the price it was a good move for the team. They risked very little in this pick up.
Casey Wells: Before the day even began, most Hab fans must have assumed that Kostitsyn had played his last game wearing a Montreal Canadiens sweater. The Canadiens made it official early in the day by sending Kostitsyn to Nashville in exchange for a second round pick in 2013 and the conditional 5th round draft pick previously involved in the Hal Gill trade. The Kostitsyn brothers unite in Nashville, leaving many Canadiens fans left to wonder what happened to a player who had slipped to 10th overall in the 2003 draft, and brought great promise to re-energize the franchise. Over the development of his career, Kostitsyn was given multiple opportunities to step up, but failed to ever blossom fully as a player.
Though I left grumbling that Kostitsyn only fetched a second rounder, I was shocked to see that the Buffalo Sabres were able to trade Paul Gaustad, drafted in the 7th round, 220th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, with only 7 goals and 10 assists this season for a highly revered 1st round pick. Gaustad's best season was when he posted a career high 36 points in 2007 – 2008. In comparison Andrei had a career high 53 point season that year, and in the 2010 -2011 regular season posted 45 points. This year he has accumulated a respectable 12 goals and 12 assists. With both players UFA’s this year, this leaves me to conclude, that if the Canadiens had held out a little longer, they could have gotten more. As for Staubitz, Montreal is only responsible for half his salary and cap hit, and I believe he has been brought in to protect some of Montreal young assets.