San Jose traded defenseman Josh Gorges and its first-round draft
pick this summer for Rivet and a fifth-round selection in 2008.
Rivet, who can be an unrestricted free agent after the season,
has 11 years of NHL experience -- all with the Canadiens, who
drafted him in 1992. He has six goals, 10 assists and 57 penalty
minutes in 54 games this season as a quietly dependable presence on
Montreal's blue line -- and that's exactly what the Sharks need heading into
their final 20 games.
Rivet had never been traded at any level of hockey, so the
concept still was sinking in while he settled his affairs in
Montreal. Given his contractual uncertainty, Rivet wasn't surprised
to get the call.
"I've been in Montreal a long time and have a lot of roots
here," Rivet said. "But at the same time, I saw the writing on
the wall, and was thinking a trade might be good. I'm just looking
to go there and be a solid piece to their puzzle."
Immigration issues will keep Rivet out of the lineup for Monday
night's home game against Anaheim, but the Sharks hope he'll be
available Wednesday against Nashville.
Rivet has been out of the Canadiens' lineup since Feb. 8,
missing nine games while battling pneumonia and only returning to
practice Sunday. He also butted heads with coach Guy Carbonneau earlier in
the season, sitting down for one game as a healthy scratch.
But the Sharks desperately needed an experienced, playoff-tested
defenseman to help lead a defensive crew that has been criticized
this season despite the club's strong record. San Jose gave up 29
goals on its just-completed eight-game road trip, including seven
in a loss to Calgary on Saturday night.
"I know they have a great group up front, and they have
outstanding goaltending," Rivet said. "I'm just going to be
looking to solidify things on the blue line. I'm going there to
play real solid, tight defense, and hopefully I can help them win
some tight games."
The 32-year-old Rivet will be the Sharks' oldest player, even
though he's barely middle-aged by most clubs' standards. San Jose
general manager Doug Wilson has consistently resisted the
temptation to ship out his young forwards and goalies to supplement
his defense, insisting the Sharks' prospects deserved the right to
Gorges was among those youngsters who earned an opportunity, but
the 23-year-old player had just one goal and three assists in 47
games while struggling in his own end.
San Jose also shipped out young defenseman Tom Preissing last
summer in a trade for Mark Bell. The Sharks still will have a
first-round pick in the upcoming draft after acquiring New Jersey's
choice last year.
"Craig was certainly in the top group [of players] that we
wanted," Wilson said. "Craig is kind of a hybrid, and he really
fits with our group, and he's the right age. ... He has scored five
goals on the power play, and he's a right-handed shot, which is
really important to us."
Wilson hopes Rivet will have the same impact as veteran forward
Mike Grier, who has been the Sharks' best penalty-killer and a
consistent offensive presence in his first year since signing as a
free agent before the season.
The Sharks still will have a first-round pick this summer after
acquiring New Jersey's top selection last year.