Well, it seems Pierre Gauthier stays up later than Bob Gainey on school nights. Sometime around midnight last night, the Habs told Matt D'Agostini he's now a St.Louis Blue. The Canadiens get Aaron Palushaj (pronounced Pah-loosh-aye for those who're wondering) in exchange. Hindsight may say the Habs lost this one if D'Agostini ever turns out to be a 25-goal scorer in St.Louis, but I don't see that happening.
Gauthier has made exactly the kind of trade he should be making right now. D'Agostini wasn't doing anything in Montreal, despite being given numerous chances on the top lines. He was taking bad penalties and he wasn't effective on the bottom lines. With the top six healthy, he had no chance of playing with better linemates either. Still, he's come pretty far for a guy drafted in the sixth round.
Palushaj, on the other hand, was a second-rounder. He's six feet tall, but skinny, and the book on him says he's got good speed, a very nice shot, a strong worth ethic and some offensive smarts. His defensive awareness is considered average, though. On my part, I remember him playing for Team USA in the World Juniors a couple of yeras ago and being impressed with his skill.
In terms of how he'll fit in with the Habs, he's a skilled right-handed shot, and he's a project. He's only twenty years old so he'll be sent to Hamilton to be shaped by Guy Boucher. His first year of pro hockey, with the Blues' farm team in Peoria, has been pretty average. He's got only 22 points in 44 games, but those who know him say it's more a confidence issue than one of ability. In college, he put up solid numbers, 94 points in 82 games over two seasons at the University of Michigan. He shared his rookie season at Michigan with Max Pacioretty (and outscored him), so those two have a history I'm sure the Habs are hoping to revive in Hamilton.
Right now, I like this trade. Gauthier has managed to convert an underachieving 24-year-old sixth rounder most people would have let go on waivers, into a talented 20-year-old second rounder with the potential to develop well under Boucher's tutelage. I wish D'Agostini well, but I'm glad to see the Canadiens get a potential building block in exchange for a guy who didn't have a role with the current team anymore.
Score one for Gauthier today, and let's hope he continues burning the midnight oil.