As moves go, it's an odd duck. Gillies was a former first round pick of the Wild in 2007, but he's seemed to show himself as a strong AHL scoring talent who hasn't figured it out in the NHL yet. Willing to skate, hit, and check, he's a great energy line player on a deep team, but I honestly don't see where he fits into the Columbus lineup that already has Derek Dorsett, Jared Boll, and Ryan Russell on the ice. Is he another attempt to bring in some jam with Umby on the shelf with a concussion? Is he being added as a checker in anticipation of players like Sammy Pahlsson or Derek MacKenzie being made available as we get closer to the trade deadline?
I can't help but think this move may have been an opportunity grab, but it could set up something else in the near-ish future.
It may be telling that the guys at Hockey Wilderness are generally pretty pleased that Gillies is gone, citing his $625,000 cap hit contract as an "anchor", but on the other hand this is a guy who is just a month shy of his 23rd birthday and was a big part of the Aeros run to the Calder Cup finals in Houston last season. Perhaps a fresh start and a willingness to come in and fight for ice time in a new room will be exactly what the doctor ordered.