As Nashville Predators fans, it's safe to say that skepticism typically comes before optimism. This, of course, is not always the case, but it's how sports works -- anything that can go wrong, will.
So when Preds GM David Poile elected to make nary a move at the 2010-11 NHL Trade Deadline, his decision was justifiably met with a fair bit of skepticism. Nashville had been decimated by injuries at the forward position, these to Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, Cal O'Reilly, and Marcel Goc, and it was only logical to expect at least a cursory deal to improve the forward corps heading into the stretch drive.
That was not to be. In the ensuing press conference and radio interviews, Poile explained they could not find a suitable addition, and so, the team would move forward, placing trust in their youth, specifically three players who had spent major time as Milwaukee Admirals.
At the time, it was seen as at least a foolish move, and at worst one that could cause the team to tumble right down the standings in a year they could ill afford to do so.
That was before the players hit the ice.
The NHL debuts of Jonathon Blum and Blake Geoffrion were highly anticipated and met with great expectations. After all, despite numbers 5 and 7 being pressed into duty before they might've been ready, they were still the pride of the organization's farm system.
It's not often that we have our expectations for something on the ice met and thoroughly exceeded, but that's exactly what happened. Barry Trotz, normally reserved with his praise, went so far as to say of Blum that he was "gonna be a helluva player".
While Blum immediately took over Francis Bouillon's 2nd pairing duties, Blake Geoffrion showed up and promptly took the NHL lead in goals per 60 minutes. A small sample size, to be sure (and really, too small to make anything of), but the goals counted all the same - particularly the game winner in Vancouver and the astounding hat trick in Buffalo.
More covertly, the player acquired in last summer's Jason Arnott trade was recalled. Matt Halischuk is your prototypical jack of all trades but master of none. While not as touted as Blum or celebrated as Geoffrion, Halischuk has had a crucial impact anyway. He's scored a few timely goals, played well defensively, but most of all provided much needed energy on a team that at times gets stuck in the mud.
And so, our faith as a fanbase has grown, not only in the youth but the front office, too. Could a deadline acquisition have been useful? Absolutely, but with injured players returning and the high cost relative to the low return of this year's market, the Preds elected to play with the hand they'd been dealt. The team went 10-3-2 in March with Blum, Geoffrion, and Halischuk contributing despite minimal ice time. What would've happened with fewer injuries or a trade will forever be an unknown, but I do know this: never, ever play poker with David Poile.