Hal Gill

We have a trade to announce: Nashville acquires Hal Gill from Montreal


The Nashville Predators made a very intriguing move in advance of the Feb. 27 trade deadline, acquiring defenseman Hal Gill from Montreal in exchange for Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney.

The teams will also exchange picks as part of the deal, with Montreal getting Nashville’s second-round pick in 2012 and Nashville receiving Montreal’s fifth-round pick in 2013.

“Gill brings our team a number of elements — size, penalty-killing ability, depth on defense and playoff experience,” Preds GM David Poile told NHL.com. “He has won a Stanley Cup and played a combined 69 playoff games over the last four years, experience that significantly benefits our team.”

Some thoughts on the move:

— There’s been plenty of talk about Poile showing players (read: Ryan Suter and Shea Weber) the organization’s committed to winning. Spending big for Gill — a prospect and a second-round pick is no small price — is a strong statement, especially after Nashville spent huge to retain Pekka Rinne and acquired Mike Fisher prior to last year’s deadline.

— This is a PR dream for Montreal. Geoffrion is the grandson of Habs legend Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and the great-grandson of former Canadiens center Howie Morenz, one of the 12 original inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame. No pressure, kid!

— Adding Gill sure makes for a crowded blueline in Nashville, hey? The Preds are currently rolling with Suter, Weber, Roman Josi, Kevin Klein, Francis Bouillon and Ryan Ellis with Jack Hillen in reserve and former first-round pick Jonathon Blum in AHL Milwaukee.

— Not to say Poile will flip a defenseman to acquire some scoring up front…but it sure seems more feasible now than it did prior to getting Gill. Right? Right? Bueller?

— Finally…if you asked me (prior to this deal) for a list of 20 teams I thought would be interested in getting Gill, not sure Nasvhille would’ve made the list. But looking at it again, it’s a pretty slick move. The Preds are what they are — a tight-checking, hard-working, hell-to-play-against defensive team. So why not play to your strengths, rather than try to reinvent yourself? It’s kinda like how the Baltimore Ravens keep adding/drafting defensive studs even though they’ve already got a great defense. That’s their identity.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.