Well, that was all just luck and hard-headedness. However, today O'Byrne was indeed at the end of his Canadiens career as he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche (Quebec's other team) for a prospect from the QMJHL.
There's little to be positive about in O'Byrne's loss. He was a decent defender who was never given a proper chance. But as they didn't just outright lose him, this trade does offer a lot of positive.
The player they received in return, Michel Bournival of the Shawinigan Cataractes, is a proper prospect. He is only 18, he plays in the Quebec league and he is adept enough at scoring to have been taken in the first three rounds of the latest NHL draft. Being as he is from the home province, that bumps him to second round value for the Habs who may be getting a bit worried about their hometown content for future seasons as Mathieu Carle sputters, Olivier Fortier slips, Gabriel Dumont is still small and Maxim Lapierre shows last year's regular season was not a one-time thing. Bournival isn't the future saviour of the Canadiens. The scouting report dug up by Mike Boone says:
"He hasn't been on the radar a whole lot but everybody has the same opinion of him, he's just an excellent hockey player," veteran scout Kevin Prendergast said. "He's not great at anything, but he's good at everything. I think we'll probably want to have a look and see if he's versatile. Can he play the wings as (well) as playing centre too? We think the centre situation is going to be taken, but he's got the kind of hockey sense and the grit that we think he has a chance to maybe be part of the camp."Not great at anything is never something you want to read, yet it may be the scout's manner, as he also reveals him as an excellent hockey player.
It's almost always the case with prospects anyway that what came before only gives a trend, an idea. Some big-time scorers flop and some small-time scorers soar. You never know. I'd say that at least at this point he is scoring, because if you can't do that in the QMJHL, then where can you? Mentions of work ethic and dedication are encouraging and sometimes mean as much as the scout's read on skating at the end of the day.
Overall, it's a let's see approach. O'Byrne was in the let's not see situation, so we get a prospect for a player whose ticket was already punched. A positive.
Well, I liked O'Byrne and he wasn't tried or given chance to thrive. It may be seen as another indictment, but then again, maybe the team thought it needed to make place for others it was developing (just don't ever mention Alex Henry, please, please).
The immediate negative is significant, however. If there is an injury or two, then the call-ups are less capable than O'Byrne. Picard has proven he can manage the load for now, which is great. Beyond him, questions arise. I mention Henry. He's not an option in my book. Weber is great going forward, but if he could play D, he'd be on the big team already. Matt Carle? St Denis? Maybe they'll be fine, but I'd expect them to take time that O'Byrne has already taken to learn.
The other drawback may be that 6'5" Dmen are hotter commodities than small forwards who work hard and are good at everything, but great at nothing. Comparing this to raw ores, Gauthier may have just traded the rarer ore for some nickel. We know the Canadiens have been poor to atrocious at developing players. Their reluctance to put extra work into O'Byrne because he could have become a rarity is unfortunate. If the Canadiens ever had the Islanders era Chara, you know he'd have been benched and shipped out for Andre Roy or something.
Overall, I can be happy with the trade. I had reconciled that O'Byrne may have ceased to exist as a Hab at least a week ago, if not earlier. As such, the chance to add to the larder from his trade is good. The fact that player could become a decent player, an interviewee and a media-attention deflector is of some serious value to in this town.