HabsWorld.net -- 

On Thursday, we saw the Habs make their first deal of the season, dealing
away Ryan O’Byrne to Colorado for prospect forward Michael Bournival.  Fan
response to the trade has been largely split as some people are concerned that
O’Byrne will flourish with his new team.  Having taken some time to review
the trade from all angles, our writers offer up their views on the move.

Matt Gauthier: "Losing Ryan
O’Byrne is a huge blow to our defense. Of course you’ll tell me he was the 7th
or 8th d-man on our depth chart. However, next summer we have 3 d-men
set to become UFA. The Habs have waited and invested 7 years in the development
of Ryan O’Byrne. His progression was slow but he did showed great potential and
willingness to grow. We never heard him complain and the only reports we have is
that he was liked in the locker room and a good team player. The Canadiens do
not have many defensemen of his type on the roster. I thought he would have made
a great replacement for Hal Gill next year. On the other hand, the move does
free up some interesting cap space down the road, which could be interesting
come the trade deadline. Also, the addition of the Shawinigan Cataractes Captain
is very intriguing. We might have to wait another 7 years to see the real
winner of this trade."

Brian La Rose: "This appears to be the new type of early season trade
nowadays in the NHL – one team’s reserve becomes another team’s project. 
Ryan O’Byrne had ample opportunity to force his way into the lineup over the
years and he didn’t.  Did he deserve a little longer of a leash from
Jacques Martin?  Sure, but alas, he never got one.  It should also be
noted that O’Byrne was in all likelihood going to be unqualified as an RFA in
June had he kept up this pace – it would be hard for management to justify
offering at least $1.4 M to a player who can’t be a regular.  In that case,
it was a smart move to take advantage of Colorado’s injury situation and get
what appears to be a quality prospect in return.  Though it doesn’t sound
as if Bournival will be a major scorer at the professional level, he brings lots
of intangibles (the little things) to his game which is something that every successful team covets. 
Cap wise, this gives the team some much needed flexibility moving forward which
could be used to bolster the club later on in the year or possibly to acquire
O’Byrne’s replacement should another d-man be deemed necessary.  All in
all, a good trade in my books."

Louis Moustakas: "In trading a 26 year old blueliner with a limited
future in Montreal for an 18 year old prospect, the Canadiens made an excellent
move in both the short and long term. In the short term, the Habs manage to
obtain value for O’Byrne instead of giving him away on waivers and allow
themselves a bit more wiggle room in regards to the cap. In the long run,
Michael Bournival joins the likes of Louis Leblanc, Phillipe Lefebvre, David
Desharnais, Dany Masse, Olivier Fortier and Gabriel Dumont in forming what looks
to be a promising group of young, Quebec born forwards. As for Ryan O’Byrne, he
gets a chance to contribute to a Colorado backend that has been decimated by
injuries. With Kyle Cumiskey and Adam Foote out long-term, this is easily the
best opportunity in his career." 

Matt Dilworth: "As the above have stated, this trade is completely
unsurprising given the play of Alexandre Picard and the good health *knocks
on wood*
of the top 6 defencemen; O’Byrne had simply become redundant. 
Nevertheless, watching Ryan come up through the organization and witnessing
all-too brief moments of sheer stay-at-home brilliance, I’m left wondering if
O’Byrne would still be a Canadien today if he had benefitted from a few lucky
bounces throughout his career.  In his tenure with the Habs, O’Byrne broke
his thumb, was arrested for stealing a purse, scored an epic own-goal, suffered
a knee injury and missed a fair chunk of time to be with his terminally-ill
mother.  Now, all players are subject to injuries and confidence-sapping
moments, but O’Byrne seemed to have the knack of hitting this bad luck just
as he had started building some confidence.  One must wonder how good this
big, physical and quick-skating defenceman would have been had he simply had
more (or any) good luck.  From the Canadiens’ perspective, it made perfect
sense to trade O’Byrne, and I’m ecstatic that the Habs got a decent prospect
back in return… but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Rhino Burn
flourishes in his new environment.  Nevertheless, O’Byrne’s impending
contract status, the salary cap implications and the early reports on Bournival
make me a fan of this trade."

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