The Nashville Predators made a last-minute addition on Trade Deadline Day with the pickup of center Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres, and while the price was a little bit steep (Gaustad and a 4th for Nashville's 1st-round draft pick), he should provide an upgrade in the "grit" department.
Feb 03, 1982
Contract: $2.5 million, UFA this summer
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The guys at Die By The Blade will presumably be happy with this deal:
The biggest pieces the Sabres probably have are Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy. Gaustad is an unrestricted free agent that would have a cap hit of $2.3 million and a faceoff specialist. Gaustad has been lined up against the scoring lines for the opponent and has been able to shut down those lines as of late. Gaustad's 56.8% faceoff percentage has him at 10th in the league in that category as well. We took a look at Gaustad's trade value a couple days ago and if he could return a 1st or 2nd round pick that would be nice.
So let's take a look at what this big guy brings to the Preds...
The Scouting Report
So... Hal Gill the forward? The comparison isn't so bad, actually, but there are a couple of basic assets which Gaustad brings to the Preds. First off, he's a stellar faceoff man, and even before the departure of Jerred Smithson via trade, that was an area in which the Predators could use some improvement.
Secondly, he brings that hallowed quality that Barry Trotz loves (especially at playoff time), being "a tough guy to play against." Expect him to anchor the 4th line and soak up plenty of PK minutes.
Impact on the lineup
I'm guessing that we'll see Nick Spaling maintain his role as the 3rd line center, with Gaustad playing between the likes of Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque, Brandon Yip, or whoever else can work their way into the lineup each night behind the six wingers ahead of them on the depth chart. It's conceivable that Craig Smith or Jordin Tootoo could find themselves in that situation as well, with Erat/SK74, Hornqvist/Wilson, and AK46 presumably locked in for those top 3 lines.
Gaustad should step in pretty seamlessly to the role which Jerred Smithson played on this team in previous seasons, in other words.
Thoughts from the OTF Staff
Chris: A little pricey, but I like the fact that the Preds were able to acquire three useful players [including Hal Gill] without giving up a single player on the current roster. Gaustad is consistently one of the top face off men in the league, and represents a significant upgrade to Jerred Smithson offensively. Gaustad can center a power play unit if need be, improves the penalty kill, and has been known to chip in a fight or two. Again, the 1st round pick is a steep price, but on a team that is clearly going all in, it can be forgiven. Another solid move from Poile, and one that in my opinion, makes Nashville the biggest winners at the trade deadline.
Sam: Would rather the Preds have sent the 1st in a package for a gamebreaker, but I'm sure Poile tried and the trade wasn't there. Gaustad is a great fit though, as he's an upgrade in every way over Smithson, even on the dot, with his 56.8% faceoff winning percentage. He allows Honey Badger move back to the wing in the top-9 and provides a better insurance plan for Hornqvist on the PP than Yip. The Preds didn't add a superstar, but they added two big bodies that love to shoot.
Marc: On a pretty boring trade deadline by most standards, Poile asserted himself and made it known that the Predators are here to compete, and he did it all without giving up a roster player. Yes, the price here is a little steep, but such is the life for a buyer at the deadline. Gaustad is a guy who gives the Predators an immense amount of depth up front as well as a reliable faceoff guy come playoff time.
While parting with a 1st-round pick is a little bit of a surprise for a checker like Gaustad, he does bring an element which the Predators will enjoy having come playoff time. Again, think of the wear & tear that he and Gill can dish out over the course of a 7-game playoff series.