Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Montreal Canadiens Player Profile: Tom Gilbert

On July 1st, 2014, the Montreal Canadiens and their general manager, Marc Bergevin, signed right-handed defenseman, Tom Gilbert to a two-year pact worth $5.6 million, or $2.8 million annually. The 31-year-old Gilbert was brought in to replace fan favourite and veteran rearguard Josh Gorges after the latter was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2nd round draft pick. Gilbert scored 3 goals and added 25 assists for 28 points in 73 games with the Florida Panthers before a sports hernia ended his season prematurely. The 6'3″, 205-lb blue liner will slide nicely alongside his new defensive partner Alexei Emelin, who will finally be able to play on his natural side.

The native of Bloomington, Minnesota, played his college hockey at the University of Wisconsin from 2002 to 2006 after the Colorado Avalanche drafted him 129th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. But he never played for the Avs as In March of 2004, he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers. Then, after a single season in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Gilbert graduated to the NHL with the Oilers, playing 12 games in 2006-07, notching 1 goal and 5 assists for 6 points. Did you know that Gilbert was a forward in high school before he made the switch to defense?

The lanky defenseman then spent the next five seasons with the Oilers, averaging 80 games with 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points. Gilbert had his best season in 2008-09 when he recorded 5 goals and 40 helpers for 45 points in 82 games to go along with a +6 +/- rating. Gilbert was then traded to the Minnesota Wild where he played for 1 1/2 season before signing with the Panthers prior to last season.

In 2013-14, Gilbert played on average 21:20 per game, good for third among Panthers players, trailing only Brian Campbell and Dmitry Kulikov. Not a power play specialist by any means, Gilbert can still man the point on the second unit, which he will definitely asked to do, probably along with Nathan Beaulieu when PK Subban and Andrei Markov decide to come off the ice, as the righty got on average 2:13 of PP time each game with Florida.

On the defensive side of the puck, Gilbert is not as quite effective as he was scarcely used on the penalty killing, logging a mere 0:52 of ice time per game with a man down. With the departure of Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray and Josh Gorges, the Habs expect Mike Weaver and PK Subban to pick up the slack on the PK along with Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov.

Despite his imposing frame, Gilbert is not a very physical defenseman as shown by his 59 hits in 73 contests last season. His 95 blocked shots ranked him second among Panthers players last season, but that number would have ranked him seventh among Canadiens players last year. The Canadiens seem to emphasize much more on shot blocking that the Panthers, which explains the big gap between the two teams in that category.

The puck-moving Gilbert will help with the Habs' transition game on the second pairing and allow Andrei Markov to move up alongside PK Subban on the team's first pairing, which should log around 25 minutes of ice time per game all season long (barring any serious injury). The arrival of Gilbert, combined with the revelation that was Mike Weaver (also a former Panther), allowed Marc Bergevin to trade Josh Gorges and his bloated salary ($3.9M/year). The move will also allow the organization to groom youngsters Jarred
Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu on the team's third pairing alongside the defensively-reliable Weaver.

Moreover, last season, the Campbell/Gilbert pairing has been one of the NHL’s very best, with the Panthers posting a Corsi% north of 55% when the two of them were on the ice, which is considered elite by advanced stats expert Tyler Dellow. Despite this excellent statistic during his whole career even with the Oilers, when Gilbert became a free agent after being bought out by the Wild, he boasted a pretty lengthy track record of outperforming his team’s Corsi% while playing top four (and most of the time top two) minutes for his team.

Last year was a rebound season for Gilbert after he struggled mightily with the Wild in 2012-13 because of a pneumonia he suffered before the season that hampered his play all season, leading him to be frequently scratched by Minnesota and appearing in only 43 games.Still, there is every indication that Gilbert will prove to be a valuable player for the Habs as he is a right-handed shot on a team without much right-handed defensive depth. Did you know that Gilbert was 42nd in the NHL in points at the time of his season-ending injury? Subban finished 5th with 53 points while Markov finished 17th with 43 points.

Ranked 45th in the NHL among rearguards with a CF% of 51.7 (Corsi For% = Corsi For / (Corsi For + Corsi Against)), Gilbert would have been the best possession defenseman in Montreal, PK Subban posting a CF% of 49.9 last year.

Finally, do you like Tom Gilbert's signing or would you rather have kept Josh Gorges around until the end of his long contract? 

9 comments:

The need for a right handed defenseman was a necessity and it will help Emelin and Tinordi to play on there natural side. Plus he is 1 mil cheaper. Good move for many reasons talent wise they are about the same just a different type of game

This trade makes the 6 man defense better. Emelin can play on his natural side and each pairing will have a dman that can move the puck. Still sad to see Gorges go but...

There is a very strange mentality on a couple of Habs "Boards sites, HF, HIO, Habfans.com Do you all remember last season when there was talk of Emelin being benched because his play was That poor?? Or how Markov has lost maybe TWO steps..Or how fans complained everytime PK Subban would give the puck up in our own zone, or take a stupid penalty late in a close game?? Now, let Habs fans try to Justify those 3 players taking up close to 30% of the Canadiens cap space..And when the season starts, let's see how these Three players perform..I cant wait for the complaints.

Anonymous, Try and remember one thing about Canadiens fans.
They have total recall of all things delusional.

Question, With a roster of around $60 Plus Mil last year, how come in the Canadiens elimination game vs the NY Rangers, rookie goalie Tokarski, making mess than amillion bucks, allowed just One Goal, while our Montreal Multi Millionare Media darlings couldnt score One Goal between the bunch?/

Well, when I posted earlier at 5:04 today, I based alot of what I said from a comment I read from someone named Duane over at Habfans.com He mentioned that both Markov and Emelin are world class defensemen and that both Beaulieu and Tinordi are going to be All Stars one day. I now see the error in my thinking.

Dont forget Montreal finished 20TH in scoring last year, and lost a sniper in Vanek. Also this team will never win anything with Plekanec and Desharnais as the Top 2 centers again.

Why don't you become Leafs fans if the Habs are so bad? Most of you are only good at complaining, especially Guy Smith!

When you look at some of the times of the posts, all the comments are Guy Smith using his anonymous alter ego. He just trolls here out of boredom.

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