The Montreal Canadiens have acquired Marian Gaborik and 25-year-old Finnish forward Mikko Koivu from the Minnesota Wild. In exchange, the Canadiens gave to the Wild defensemen Patrice Brisebois, goaltender Marc Denis, and a 2009 7th round draft pick.
The Canadiens have been aggressive in pursuing high-priced talent, as they celebrate their Centennial Season during the 2008/09 season. Gaborik is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Canadiens' general manager, Bob Gainey, was reserved when asked about Gaborik's contract status beyond this season.
"Our priority for this season is to win now, and win this year. For our fans, this year is a celebration of our club's history, and we want to have the best players in our lineup in order to achieve that. What happens with Marian after this season will be addressed at a later time."
Upon hearing about this deal, many hockey experts scoffed at what the Canadiens exchanged for two top players. "It really is unbelievable that they only had to surrender a 7th defenseman in Brisebois, and a career backup in Denis to get two dynamic hockey players," said television expert Pierre McGuire. Others meanwhile were furious at the Minnesota Wild front office, with whispers of collusion and unfair play.
Wild general manager, Doug Risebrough, acknowledged that the 2008/09 season is a special one for the Canadiens and heeded to his old teammate's request for Gaborik and Koivu. "Bob and I have a fondness for one another. Having had the chance to play in Montreal, it is clear that they are the best franchise in the league, have the best fans in the league, and deserve to win a Stanley Cup. Especially this season. They gave us an offer we simply couldn't refuse, and I have to give Bob credit for sacrificing what they did."
The deal reunites Canadiens' captain, Saku Koivu, with his younger brother. "It really is a dream come true, and to have [Gaborik] in the deal as well is simply the best thing that could happen to me, and this hockey club," said the elder Koivu, at the club's hotel in Buffalo.
Both Gaborik and Koivu are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. It will be the first game of the season for both clubs.