With the calendar turning over to 2011 and the season nearly half complete, it's time to start looking ahead to the Trade Deadline, and the prospects for the Nashville Predators' playoff hopes. Simply put, should they go out and acquire some talent to help them make a post-season run, such as Denis Grebeshkov last year, or trade veteran players on expiring contracts (such as Joel Ward or Shane O`Brien) to load up on picks & prospects for the future?
Complicating this question, of course, is the absurd injury situation the Preds have had to cope with this season. At what point does the team write off Matthew Lombardi for the year? Can they expect Martin Erat to pull it together after back issues have plagued him all along the way? Is it reasonable to expend some hockey assets to pick up a rental player in the hopes that a healthy Predators team could prove a dark horse in the West, or do you chalk this season up to a series of bad breaks, roll out the "getting guys healthy is our trade deadline deal" line, and load up instead for 2011-12?
The Preds do have a bit of trade ammunition available, in the form of New Jersey's 2nd-round selection (which should be quite high, and was obtained in the Jason Arnott trade), and Florida's 4th (in exchange for Mike Santorelli, originally a 5th but it bumped up to round 4 after Santo played 35 games for the Panthers). Even there, however, you can open the question of whether it makes sense to use one or more of those picks to acquire a decent rental player (a 2nd-rounder seems to be the going rate these days), or perhaps package them to try and move up in the 1st round of the draft this summer. If they finish somewhere close to where they are now, it's possible that they might be able to trade up into the top ten and grab a potential difference-maker for years to come.
While you ponder that question, follow after the jump for your morning hockey news...
The Minnesota Wild are the next
victims vistors to Smashville, as they come in Tuesday, January 11. Save a few bucks and use our promo code for discount Nashville Predators tickets to this, or any other home game.
Preds On The Glass: Svatos Pickup Came at Just The Right Time for Predators and Tuesday Tidbits
Buddy gives a tentative thumbs-up to the Marek Svatos pickup in his morning links.
Hockey Night in Nashville: Wilson Coming Along; Impact of O'Reilly's Injury
Robby touches on a few points, and gives a nod to Colin Wilson's recent production.
Puck and Punk: Cursed: A Story of Why the Nashville Predators are Doomed.
Um... somebody's forgotten to throw out their old egg nog, methinks.
Game winning goal shows another dimension of Nick Spaling’s game - Nashville Predators Examiner
I like the way Nick Spaling has come along this year as much as the next guy, but if the hope is that he'll pick up some of Cal O`Reilly's offensive duties... yikes.
Predators look for more consistency in a season full of streaks | Nashville City Paper
They're hot, they're cold, they're hot, they're cold... where do the Preds head from here?
Nashville Predators plagued by injuries to centers - The Tennessean
It sounds like Chris Mueller will fill in as the 4th line center for now, with Nick Spaling the secondary option.
Around the NHL
Canada vs. U.S.A: The smell of sweet redemption - Houses of the Hockey
Canada gets to play for the gold medal at the World Juniors after beating Team USA 4-1.
Coming Down the Pipe!: Sweden Got Screwed
Sweden will play the US for bronze, and Guy Flaming thinks they deserved better.
RPI's Brock Higgs grateful for fast, professional medical response - troyrecord.com
Tragedy was narrowly averted in a recent college hockey game as an errant skate blade cut the neck of RPI center Brock Higgs.
Reluctant Boudreau preaching trap, plus 30 thoughts - Elliotte Friedman
Your weekly essential hockey reading, which includes reverberations around the league from Nashville's waiver claim of Marek Svatos.
Bryan Murray on last legs in Ottawa " The Simmons Sports Zone
Have the Ottawa Senators become the Tennessee Titans of the NHL? According to Steve Simmons, GM Bryan Murray wanted to fire head coach Cory Clouston, but the owner stepped in to nix the move.
Down Goes Brown: A mid-season evaluation of the Canadian teams
The good news in Ottawa? "Have avoided becoming national laughingstock, as nobody outside Ottawa is aware the team still exists."
Oops...Flyers waive Michael Leighton - Behind The Net
Gabe can't help cackling over Philadelphia's stupifying two-year contract with Michael Leighton.
The League of Extraordinary Statisticians: The Goon - Behind The Net
The stats crowd takes a whack a batting practice fastball right down the middle.
30 Things I Can’t Wait For in 2011 - View From My Seats
Instead of a retrospective, Matt looks ahead to what he would like to see from each team.
Introducing the Section303.com Guardian Project | Section 303
Patten had some fun with this one...
Meet Me In Columbus: Why The Blue Jackets Should Host The 2012 Winter Classic - SBNation.com
Nice try, Derek, but the goal of the Winter Classic is to draw a large TV audience and market the league. Throwing a bone to the sad-sack Blue Jackets is nonsense.
Pass or Fail: NBC's aerial camerawork in the 2011 Winter Classic - Puck Daddy
I say, give 'em full marks for trying something outside the norm.
2011 Trade Deadline: The New Jersey Devils as Sellers. What Kinds of Return Should They Expect? - In Lou We Trust
Do the Devils have anything to offer for a team like Nashville these days? Jason Arnott would be a huge boost, but I don't see them going back down that road.