On the surface, Hal Gill is a bad skater for NHL standards. For a guy his size he really doesn’t engage physically as much as he should. He doesn’t move the puck up the ice like Andrei Markov. He rarely gets points and is never seen on the ice for powerplays. Gill has been a whipping boy this season for fans that look at his physical tools and can’t understand how he makes $2.25 million dollars.
For all the “crap” that is poured onto Gill, you have to give credit where credit is due, and I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact that the 6’7 defenseman has been one of Montreal’s most valuable players in these playoffs, and he is one of the main reasons why Montreal will play a seventh game against the #1 Washington Capitals. He is truly the Canadiens’ unsung hero (with an honorable mention to Josh Gorges).
Sure – Halak has been exceptional, especially last night. Mike Cammalleri has been on fire offensively. Tomas Plekanec has been an incredible 2-way player in this series. But no one does the things that Gill does – you know; those little things that make the difference in a short 7 game playoff series.
Gill has been an absolute force with his long stick. He leads the team with a +1 plus/minus rating, which is even more impressive considering he plays a lot of minutes against Washington’s top 2 lines. He has blocked 25 shots in 6 games, which is second to only Anton Volchenkov in the NHL. His total shorthanded time on ice in the series is 29:37 (close to 5 minutes per game), yet he has only been on the ice for 1 goal against while on the PK.
$2.25 million for a player like that who elevates his game in the playoffs sounds about right.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.