When the Buffalo Sabres sent a second round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to the Montreal Canadiens, it signified the end of a whirlwind past few days for defenseman Josh Gorges.
The former alternate captain of the Canadiens vetoed a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs over the weekend, reluctantly expanded the list of teams he’d accept a trade to and then found out on Tuesday morning that he was heading to Atlantic Division rival Buffalo.
Though it admittedly shocked him at first, Gorges couldn’t help but admit excitement about his future with the Buffalo Sabres.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the Buffalo Sabres franchise, and I’m looking forward to a number of years of growing and competing for a Stanley Cup,” he told reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
One may be confused as to why a player would have the team that finished dead last in the standings a season ago on his list of teams he’d accept a trade to. Gorges said that although Buffalo wasn’t on the primary list of approved locations, his respect for head coach Ted Nolan and team owner Terry Pegula made it an easy decision to add them to his expanded approval list.
“I felt it was a good opportunity to go in there, and help grow with a good young team,” he said. “I just think it’s a good fit for me and my family.”
Gorges is heading into a situation in Buffalo where he will looked upon to be a leader for an extremely young team in the early process of a rebuild. It’s a role that he feels he is more than ready to accept, in addition to be a successful player for the Sabres.
“I want to be a leader on a team with a lot of good young players, and try to help out in any way I can,” he said. “If guys have questions, or even just being a role model by how I compete and how I prepare myself, that’s what I want to do. I want to do anything I can to help that team win.”
The Sabres also brought in Gorges former teammate and captain in Montreal Brian Gionta on a free agent contract. Gorges said having someone he’s familiar with, who just so happens to be familiar with the Buffalo area, will make the transition a lot smoother for him and his family.
“It makes things easier going forward,” he said. “It’s a comforting feeling.”