As the trading season is obviously upon us, it's time to take a look at which Nashville Predators could be on the block in any potential moves. The Olympic trading freeze will likely cause teams to consider making a move sooner rather than later, and it's helpful to know just who may be packing their bags and getting shipped in exchange for some scoring help.
Follow below where I take a look at the entire Predators roster in terms of tradability....
Can't Go Anywhere
These Nashville Predators all have no movement clauses, and will most certainly not be moved- Jason Arnott, David Legwand, J.P. Dumont, and Martin Erat. While they all would hold value on the market, their contractual clauses prevent a trade and are of too much importance to the Predators' short term success anyway.
Don't Even Try
These guys are players who are integral to the future of the entire organization. All immensely talented, and for the most part quite productive, it would be foolhardy to try and get equal value in a trade. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are one of the top defensive pairs in the league and regarded as elite talents in any circle. Already having made their respective Olympic rosters, they should be a staple on the Predators' roster for years to come. Also falling under this category is the organization's top prospect, playmaking center Colin Wilson, the incredibly efficient and economic Patric Hornqvist, and in my opinion young defenseman Cody Franson, who has displayed flashes of brilliance this year, especially offensively. He's following in the footsteps of Weber and Suter, and it would shock me to see him on the block. Kevin Klein would likely fall under this category as well after recently signing a 3-year contract extension.
Steve Sullivan has rewarded the Predators' faith in him and wouldn't be a very desirable acquisition due to his injury history. I anticipate Sully ending his career in Nashville. He fits here because its unfeasible that Poile would move him and that anyone would want him.
Marcel Goc, Joel Ward, and Jerred Smithson could all conceivably be moved, but are unlikely due to having more than one year left on their respective deals and being important pieces in the chemistry of the squad. Goc, Smithson, and Ward have proven quite productive in Barry Trotz's system, but likely wouldn't garner much interest or return. I'll throw Francis Bouillon in as well, even though he'll be a UFA at the end of this year. The Cube has been a pleasant surprise, and like other Preds, is worth more to Nashville than he would be to someone else.
I should probably mention Nick Spaling, even though he was recently reassigned to Milwaukee. He's a Jerred Smithson type player, and was quite impressive on the NHL level. While I don't doubt that some team could want him, I see him cementing a roster spot in the next year or two.
The Wild Cards
Several Predators will be free agents at year's end, but these players seem unlikely to be moved regardless of that status. Goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis both fall under this category, and while it may be a one-or-the-other situation for David Poile after the season, there isn't a serviceable backup at the AHL level and Barry Trotz hasn't even decided on a number 1 goalie this year. Jordin Tootoo's contract also runs out, but he's been somewhat injury prone of late and is immensely popular in Nashville. I'd be surprised if he was not brought back on the same type of salary.
Alexander Sulzer and Teemu Laakso have both shown good potential and could very well have a future on Nashville's blueline, but it remains to be seen whether or not Trotz and Poile see them fitting in along with the other elite prospects in the system. It wouldn't surprise me to see them stay, but neither would it shock me to see them as a pivotal piece in a deal.
Wade Belak doesn't quite fit in any category, as he's neither very useful here nor would he bring any return at all. If a trade was made, the only purpose I see Belak having is as a salary throw-in.
Leave Your Bags Packed
We now arrive at GM David Poile's most movable assets. All of these players have good value and would likely bring a nice return on the trade market. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis is likely the most valuable, and has the potential to play on a top pair somewhere. Hamhuis has been a good, and sometimes great, player for the Predators, but has somewhat regressed this year and is being squeezed out of a defense corps that includes Weber, Suter, Franson, and top prospects Sulzer, Jonathan Blum, Ryan Ellis, and Laakso. Hamhuis is an unrestricted free agent, and would be extremely useful to a team with a defensive hole (Washington?). The downside to trading him is that it would force David Poile to acquire another veteran defenseman in the short term or plug in a rookie in that spot.
Mike Santorelli is a guy who has shown some promise, but seems to be unable to take the next step. His situation is a little reminiscent of Rich Peverley, who floundered here but is flourishing in Atlanta. Santorelli needs a place where he can play on a scoring line instead of a checking line with Belak and Tootoo. I wouldn't be surprised if Santorelli is a guy who acquires you that veteran d-man after Hamhuis is traded.
Finally, Ryan Jones and Cal O'Reilly are two young players who have been productive, but may suffer from the odd man out syndrome. O'Reilly especially has a bright NHL future, but with Colin Wilson being more highly regarded and there being no other spot for him, its possible that Poile looks around for suitors. Jones is in a bit of a quandary being seemingly unable to find a niche at the highest level. Some days he hits everything that moves, and some days he wants to find the back of the net. Its his inconsistency that could end up being the end of his tenure in Nashville.
Its pretty apparent that the Nashville Predators need some scoring help, and that it would likely come from outside the organization. David Poile certainly has the necessary pieces for a trade, but its unclear whether or not they'll be enough to acquire just what the Preds need for the stretch drive. Only time will tell...
Tip o' the hat to SB Nation's New Jersey Devils blog In Lou We Trust for the inspiration behind this post.