There has been a lot of turmoil already in this lockout shortened season, and the young, hungry Predators are no strangers to some of the revolving conflict. Before we address what's available, why don't we look at some of the problems this Preds team is facing. While we're at it, let's look at some of the things this Preds team doesn't need any help with.
1) There aren't enough goals
This seems fairly obvious, but the Predators aren't burying pucks in the back of people's nets. How they win without Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist is beyond my realm of processing, but they have found a way. Now here is the problem, we will finish at .500 playing the way we are. Good defensive efforts and great forechecking has always been the top priority with the Nashville Predators, but they've always had that one guy who can put it home when they need it. Didn't matter if it was Paul Kariya, Steve Sullivan, or more recently Alexander Radulov (yeah, I know I hate him too) there has always been the one man who finds a way to drain the puck. Except now...Legwand, Erat, and Hornqvist need help and Nashville needs to get it.
2) There isn't anybody making a good first pass
Part of the reason for the Preds problems is fairly simple really, there isn't a person who is making that good first pass. If I had to say we missed anything about Suter, that is his key trait. He made the passes that got our goal scorers down the ice, and that is something we need again if we want to succeed in a very tough Central Division. Weber isn't a great passer, in fact he's mostly known for his bone crushing checks and his powerful slap shot, not to mention he's been known to block a shot or two (actually it's closer to about 120, but whose counting?). Can Roman Josi make that pass? He could, in due time anyways. But I feel Blum and Ellis are better at making that pass than Josi is at this time. It is something that will have to get done, and get done quickly as the Predators don't have time to waste.
3) The Power Play is anemic at best
This one goes hand and hand with the other two really, but it's still something that needs to be addressed. We need better powerplay production if we want to earn points in the Central Division. I won't go too far indepth with this because you can read the last couple of reasons and understand why this is an issue.
Now let's move on to a more positive note...things we do well.
1) Forechecking, forechecking, forechecking!
It's hard to argue that the Predators aren't the best forechecking team in the NHL. In fact, that's kind of our game. Forecheck with all you got on the front lines, push them back and keep them out on the back end. Richard Clune, Brandon Yip, and Nick Spaling help the cause with this. Mike Fisher locks down the backchecking, along with Goose which gives us a good all around game. No problems here.
2) Shotblocking and Penalty Kill
The Predators have picked up a new trait lately, and that trait is shot blocking. Get in the way of the puck and keep it off net and you have a better chance of keeping Pekka clean. Scott Hannan, Hal Gill, and even Shea Weber are getting in on the act which is making Peks one happy goaltender (and one with a lot less bruises). Outside of that, our penalty kill has really stepped it up the last couple of weeks, making the Predators defensive special teams a big key again. We've got the shotblockers to thank for that.
If there was ever a time for a new niche for the Predators, that niche would probably be faceoffs. Since they acquired Paul Gaustad last year the Predators have managed to sneak into the Top 10 in the NHL with their faceoff percentage. Goose is a big part of it, but in turn Fisher and Legwand have both really stepped it up on their faceoff percentage too. Even little Nick Spaling has gotten some quality faceoff wins, so defensively the Predators Centers are on their game. This is going to be a big part of Predators hockey for a while I believe, and I'm quite okay with that.
Now we get to move on to the fun part, whose available and what is it going to cost to get them. I'll start with the most likely ones and work my way down.
This is by far and away the most likely to happen in my mind. The Panthers and the Predators have a very close working relationship and have made several trades together in the past. Vokoun being the most memorable of them, but we've also sent them Smithson, and they've acquired other former Predators in Marcel Goc and Scottie Upshall. Needless to say, the two teams are very familiar with one another. Moving on, Mr. Weiss has been absolutely stunning for the Panthers recording 144 goals while nabbing another 247 assists in only 640 games. He knows how to score, that's for sure and he's done it on a Florida Panthers team with far less talent than the Predators. Florida doesn't really want to part with him, but they can't afford to resign him either. He's got a 3.1 cap hit right now, and could get a good 4.5 on the open market. The Predators have the cap space to resign him, and I think he would be a perfect Predator. So what's the cost?
Mike Cammalleri is another big time name the Predators could be in the hunt for. Calgary has made no bones about it, they're looking to get younger and rebuild within the Flames. While Cammalleri isn't the first name you think of when you think of the Flames, he is the one who is most readily available. He's got two years left on his contract, and comes with a 6 million dollar cap it. That's the main reason he is on the block, Calgary is currently right at the existing cap, but needs to clear 5-7 million dollars to reach the new cap. Thus, they would be in the market for trading the former Canadiens Forward, despite his short time with the team. His 427 points would be a very welcome addition to a Predators team that has been lacking that kind of production for a very long time. While I like the move from a hockey standpoint, it should be duly noted I think Cammalleri has a poor attitude, and can be selfish at times...but maybe he just needs a coach who will bear down on him like only Trotzy can. So what's the cost?
Cost: A first round pick in the 2013 Draft, or Craig Smith.
3) Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks/Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Ducks
Remember that talk we had about how teams are over the salary cap? Well Anaheim isn't one of them...at least not yet. They recently resigned Bobby Ryan, who comes with a nice little cap hit over the next couple of years and now it is decision time. Do they want to keep Ryan Getzlaf or do they want to keep Corey Perry? If you want to get technical, they could afford to do both of them with 13 million in cap space currently, but by the time the new cap comes in that number will tank to roughly 8 million dollars. Add that with the fact Smith-Pelley is going to be a RFA in a couple of years and Anaheim has to move on. I would be happy with either one of these players, but I'd prefer having the dynamic Center like Getzlaf in the lineup. Prepare to feel a little queasy at the price tag for this one...
Cost: Ryan Ellis OR Roman Josi and a 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft (which could go up to a first round pick if the Predators make the finals).
What about a puck moving defenseman? That was one of our big needs right? Well...kind of, but I feel like the Predators could live with the defenseman they have. I think Nashville kind of wishes they had Cody Franson back, but what's done is done and now we must move on. So is there anybody else I could think of for this Predators team? Absolutely...
Even though he is a Russian player, I have to admit that I love this kid. I'm unaware of his status currently as he isn't listed on the Kings or Monarchs active roster. He did demand a trade, feeling as if he didn't have a fair chance to contribute after the Kings acquired both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. I see his point as it appears both those forwards are in for the long haul with the Kings. I don't know much about what the Kings are looking for, they seem fairly solid all the way around. Since this is a problem prospect for them though, I'd venture to guess he could go fairly cheap. I wouldn't be surprised if we got Andrei to go along with any of the other players above. So what's the cost?
I tried to keep this as short and sweet as possible, but I failed at that so I hope you enjoyed it. Before I let this go, I'm going to give you a best of the rest, as in trades that could happen, but if they don't happen I'm not overly shocked.
Jarome Iginla, RW, Calgary Flames: They're getting younger, but I don't think they could part with their captain and ifn they do I'd say he'll go to Detroit of Philadelphia.
Mark Streit, D, New York Islanders: This looks like a typical rental pick from a team that is looking to get younger, but the Preds have resigned other "rentals" they acquired, so it wouldn't shock me if Streit came in and stayed 2-3 years. If the Preds do acquire a D-Man, this is the one.
Keith Yandle: Let me throw this in the long shot column, while Yandle is a stud defenseman I'd venture to guess Phoenix is going to want the farm for him. And while he would go good with Weber, I don't see Phoenix trading him to a Western Conference foe.
Ryan O'Reilly: This might be one move that is more likely to happen, and could have easily accounted for a paragraph of it's own. However, there is one thing holding this up. Colorado wants young forward prospects, upon which we have Austin Watson and maybe Craig Smith, I don't know if that's enough to wet Colorado's taste to send this young explosive forward to the Music City.
That's all I've got for now, I hope you guys enjoyed this article as much as you did the last one. I probably won't do another for a couple of weeks, but I do appreciate the warm responses you guys have given me the last couple of days. Thanks for reading.