It's never too early to think about what kind of potential deals are to be had out on the open trade market. The San Jose Sharks showed us last year that you can retool on the fly, and dump guys you don't think will return in favor of guys who can help mold your team for years to come. When you look for potential prospects you always aim for guys who can be inserted into the lineup within the year, to see what you're truly working with. The question now remains, is it too early to consider trading for youth? What would even be available?
That depends on what you want to really give up. The obvious choice is David Legwand, the not so obvious choice is Mike Fisher. Both are 33 year old Centermen who hold value. While I love Fisher's game, he's on the wrong side of 30 and making 4.2 million dollars to boot. For some team, whose starving that last piece, the last bit of grit, that's really all they need. They'll have to swallow the salary for another year after this one, but it would be well worth the cost if it won a team another cup. In terms of Legwand, he's your typical rental prospect, and while it figures the return might not be too high, you would be surprised if a team things Legwand could be a piece of the future what they'll give up in return.
Several teams have prospects buried in the minors (ourself included), and those prospects are about to be done with their entry level deals. Once they're done, they can still be signed to a two way deal, but they get a waiver clause in there stating they have the option to be picked up by other teams before getting dropped in the minors. As of now, I'm going to present to you potential trade options that could not only spark the Predators this year, but for years to come.
The first part of understanding what to trade for, is determining what you really need. I've got two major needs I see right now within our organization.
1) A playmaking centerman, one who can put the puck on the stick of our forwards.
2) A monster power forward, much like Colin Wilson.
It may be easy to say "grab a sniper" but at the end of the day, it's proven fact that snipers don't work out here. It's also a proven fact that power forwards who can score and hit, are more valuable than just a one dimensional sniper. So here are some key targets, and names you might want to keep fresh in your head for the potential future. Let's get it started.
Linden Vey, Center/Right Wing, Los Angeles Kings
What is it with the Kings having great forward luck recently? They seem to sprout forwards out of nowhere. This is another gem who was just called up today (due to the Jeff Carter injury). What does he bring to the table? Well first off, he's only 22 years old and on the final year of his entry level. So he brings youth, but experience as well. After playing four years in Medicine Hat, the young man found himself on the Manchester Monarchs farm team, where he only netted 67 points last year. While it may be easy to say "well he did that against inferior competition" it's also important to note that so did Taylor Beck, and he turned out decently last year. Be prepared however, because the price is going to be steep for Vey, you're looking at giving up David Legwand more than likely, but in return you could have an explosive Center for years to come.
Devante Smith-Pelly, Right Wing, Anaheim Ducks
You want to talk about big, nasty, Power Forwards? Right here is your man. Smith-Pelly is on the wrong side of the Bobby Ryan trade right about now. Because of the Ducks acquiring more young forwards, Pelly was put down in the minors until an injury came up. That's okay though, because he plays pretty amazingly in the AHL. In 2011 for the Ducks he only had 13 points, but he also had 114 hits in only 49 games. That's pretty scary right? Not nearly as scary as his Norfolk Admiral numbers...he had 32 points in 65 games, and got well over 200 hits. Imagine DSP paired with someone like Austin Watson, and you'll have a very big, physical lineup for years to come. Not exactly sure what the asking price is on this one, considering how close to the cap the Ducks are. But I would be willing to bet they would value a rental moreso than a longer term contract.
Those are two Western Teams, and while a lot of people may think that Western teams won't trade to other teams in the West, the new playoff format kind of fixes any issues we may have with that. Most of these teams wouldn't even get to meet until the third round, if they met at all, which is almost like meeting at the Cup. You don't really think too much on it, because the odds are so slim. But what about out East? Are there any teams that could help us but not rob us at the same time?
Stefan Fournier, Right Wing, Montreal Canadiens
Do you know who Stefan Fournier was playing on a line with last year? Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathon Drouin. That could have inflated his point totals up to the 72 point range, but it's not highly likely considering he had almost as many the year before. The issue with Mr. Fournier is, nobody really knows how good he can be. You look at the prospect rating sites, and they don't have high hopes for him. But anybody who can score 72 points, with another 29 in the QMJHL playoffs has earned my respect. I would be willing to take a flyer on another Power Forward prospect, because at the end of the day he's proven he can score, he's proven he can fight, and he's proven he can hit. He's not as seasoned as some of the other prospects on the list, but that to me just says we might get him for less. Put this is the maybe column, as this might cost us some toughness that Montreal lacks.
Chris Kreider, Left Wing, New York Rangers
Kreider has been the Colin Wilson of the Rangers, always bounced up and down the lineup, sometimes sent to Hartford, and overall he's been overshadowed in a massively talented lineup. But he brings size, decent speed, and a nice shot. He's not terrible defensively and he's only 22. I think he's a great fit for us as a team, but the question is would New York let him go? Considering he started the year in the minors, and was only called up due to a Rick Nash injury, I think it's safe to say if they were offered a veteran rental they would be comfortable letting go of Kreider. Obviously I like this move a lot better than Fournier, but not as much as the first two mentioned. But he would for sure be an upgrade over Nick Spaling.
Really? Like really really? Could it be possible? The answer is yes, it could very well be possible Ryan Strome is on the trading block. What excites you about Ryan Strome is the fact that he has been amazing for the Niagra Icedogs, coming close to the 100 point mark several times, when he's been healthy. Oh no, not the H word. He's netted 7 points in 10 games with Bridgeport, so there are signs he can succeed if he's upright. This might be the most promising of the trades, because the Islanders have made it very, very, clear that they're interested in winning now and they have the prospect pool to do it. Imagine if they acquired some toughness in Mike Fisher, and we acquired some skill in Strome? Both teams would benefit, and be wildly successful in the future.
Things can always change, and things always will change. But there has to be a timeclock on this rebuild. Peks is in his 30s, and has 6 years left on his deal...if we're lucky, he'll be stellar for 5 of those years. Weber is 28 and he's got 13 years left on his deal, but at the end of the day we don't have time to sit and wait for those players to be old and gray before we get a kick in the tail. To be perfectly fair here, drafting a prospect past pick 5 normally means they're back in juniors for a year or two, this would be a quicker way to get back to our winning ways.
And remember, if none of this happens it's never too late to vote me in as the Predators General Manager.