Brian Murray has made the first move in the intricate chess game of give and take between contenders and wannabes at the NHL trade deadline. The Corvo/Eaves for Stillman/Commodore deal is significant in that it adds second-line scoring and a grittier defenceman to an already strong Senators team.
So now, the question becomes, what does Bob Gainey do to counter that? Time is getting short as the deadline looms in two weeks. The Hossa rumours continue to fly, as the Jokinen talk quiets somewhat. But I think Gainey can't afford a splashy move like that right now.
The Habs are a good, young team. But, as Ottawa proved with last Saturday's bitch-slapping of the Canadiens, the Senators are better. They're primed to win a Cup right NOW, and they're tinkering with minor parts to make sure that happens. The Habs still need work on some major parts, like solidifying the defence, and adding some secondary scoring of their own. A big gamebreaker, of which the Senators have three, is also a must. So, if Gainey can follow Murray's lead and tinker a bit to solve some of the smaller issues this year without giving up too much of the future, that's fine. The Habs should make the playoffs and maybe surprise people.
In the end, Ottawa's time is now, while the Canadiens' time is still in the future. The parts Gainey needs are in the system, or are developing into assets he can use to trade for what he needs at a later date. This year, unless the perfect deal for a great addition is available, I wouldn't expect to see much movement by Patient Bob.
Either way, the clock is ticking and Murray has made the first move. It'll be interesting to see who's got checkmate when the game ends in two weeks.