Habs GM Gauthier loads up on draft picks by sending Andrei Kostitsyn to Preds

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – In Pierre Gauthier’s view the Montreal Canadiens finished the trading deadline with bargaining chips for the future.

Only 10 days after Montreal traded defenceman Hal Gill to Nashville, the two teams partnered up again at the trade deadline Monday with the Habs sending winger Andrei Kostitsyn to the Predators for a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.

While the move wasn’t splashy as some might have wanted, the Canadiens general manager pointed to the fact that the team now has in place a plethora of draft picks over the next two years.

“We have a number of chips to play with, an extra pick in the coming draft, two extra picks in the following, so we have an opportunity to improve,”said Gauthier.

Kostitsyn, meanwhile, is reunited with his brother Sergei in Nashville after playing his entire career with the Canadiens. The brothers played together in Montreal for three years from 2007 to 2010.

“Kostitsyn absolutely did not ask to be traded,”said Gauthier.“He was very proud and told us very clearly that he was proud to play for the Montreal Canadiens. This was his original club and he did very well over the length of his career. Maybe he was somewhat of a streaky player but, at the end, he was a player for us. When we get to these times, we usually evaluate how we are going to go forward and we thought that going forward, he was not going to be part of it. That was our decision and that’s why we made the trade.”

Gauthier, who recently had been rumoured to be out of the decision-making, adamantly dismissed such chatter.

“I don’t pay attention to rumours,”Gauthier said.“Nobody told me about that and there is nothing like that going on. It’s business as usual as far as the decision-making process and if it’s changed, nobody told me.”

Moving Gauthier and Gill creates open spots on the roster and Gauthier said the change will allow the team to move forward with a different perspective.

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“As we go forward, what is important is that our team joins in and gets their momentum changed into a more positive direction,”Gauthier said.“Right now, we have 24 players and three of them (Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche and Andrei Markov ) are not ready to play. Whoever plays and in what role doesn’t really matter. I think with Kotsitsyn gone it will be an opportunity for people to grow into the role he was playing. The people that are here can all contribute and it’s how you play as a team and how people perform to the best of their ability that will determine that.”

Gauthier said he was“quite surprised”at the lack of action throughout the trading period, but he was pleased with what the Canadiens were able to accomplish.

“It was a little more quiet than usual,”Gauthier said.“Some of the general managers were saying, ‘My gosh, I’m not talking to anybody!’ There were less players of impact, but it heated up in the last day or so.

“It’s unpredictable, but we reached most of our objectives in that we had a player that was attractive to many teams in Kotsitsyn and we wanted to maximize the asset in that case. We wanted to make sure the team is as competitive as possible and we felt we took the first step in doing so.”

The Canadiens also claimed Brad Staubitz off NHL waivers from the Minnesota Wild. The 27-year-old Staubitz has recorded 73 penalty minutes this season, including nine majors, in 43 games.

“He’s another big body to add to the lineup who hopefully can contribute to the rebalancing of the forwards,”Gauthier said.

The six-foot-one, 210-pound winger has scored eight goals and amassed 432 penalty minutes in 196 games over four seasons with Minnesota and San Jose.