#2 / Defenseman / Pittsburgh Penguins
Apr 06, 1975
|2008 - Hal Gill||2||8||10||11||53|
Watch any Penguins broadcast and you'll likely hear about the "6'7", 250-pound tower Hal Gill." I mean, how could you not? It's not like the guy doesn't stand out on the ice.
Yet in this day and age of the new NHL (maybe one day we'll get to a point where we can stop prefacing that and just call it the NHL), the emphasis on size is somewhat unnecessary. Speed tends to be the name of the game in all capacities. Able-bodied defensemen who once made a living by bullying forwards out of the crease now have to worry about refs calling obstruction calls. Speedy forwards careening around corners now more or less have the rite of passage to the net, unless the defenseman chooses to attempt contact and risk a holding/charging/hooking call.
Hal Gill had his big moments this past season that won't show up on the stat sheet. Guys like him often go down as unsung heroes because of textbook plays that lead to transition opportunities on the other end. However a guy like Gill is easily exposed when a forward edges around him only to get tripped up by a long reach, or his elbows/hands, inconveniently located at the head to upper-shoulder range of the average player, send him to the box.
When Gill came on board at the 2008 trade deadline, the addition of a big-framed defenseman was somewhat out of the ordinary but offered at a bargain price that Pitt just couldn't turn down - a second-round pick in 08 and a fifth-round pick in 09. For what Gill has contributed to the Pens since then, I'd say it was a move executed by Pitt's front office to fill a void at the time.
The Penguins recently re-signed Alex Goligoski to a three-year deal. Although he is nowhere near the size or physicality of Gill, it's hard to argue that he will pose as the future of the blue line. Gill made a little over $2 million last season and can test the market on July 1. Given the tight salary cap that Pittsburgh has to work with, how do you see this one panning out?