Predator fans came into this season with very high expectations, despite the fact that Ryan Suter left the team, Alexander Radulov went back to Russia, and AK46 was let go by the team. People thought it was time for some of our younger forwards to step up, and a lot of people thought they would step up. With exception of Colin Wilson that hasn't exactly happened just yet, while Craig Smith has looked good at times he's still a very raw player. To be honest, if he was in any other organization he would be down in the AHL trying to score on a consistent basis. Gabriel Bourque is in the same boat, while he has his moments of absolute hustle it's more often moments of confusion and a lack of confidence that hurts his game the most. He did have an awesome shorthanded goal this year, which helps his cause. But to be flat out honest, this Predators team this year kind of sucks. We're not scoring goals at a rate we need to score goals, and we're not stopping other teams from scoring at will.
Let's face it, all the years of terrible picks (Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard anyone?) added with the years the Predators traded their first round pick getting players like Paul Gaustad and Mike Fisher has come back to bite the Predators...hasn't it? The answer is, sort of. While the Predators have played like crap for the last couple of weeks, the baby Preds down in Milwaukee have actually been fairly surprising. Their record isn't great, but the team itself has prospects that are looking better and better each day. Michael Latta, who everyone is so high on (and with very good reason) is playing a very aggressive game and letting his inner grinder come out. Meanwhile, Austin Watson is finding a way to put some pucks in the back of the net, and Taylor Beck is putting up points at a very outstanding pace.
You're probably wondering why I even mention this, and I'll tell you why. After watching the Predators this season, I've come to the conclusion that this team would be best suited as sellers for this years trade deadline. Inner Preds fans everywhere are overreacting and saying "WHAT?!?!? WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLAYOFF RACE!" They would be correct, but have you seen our games against Anaheim, Chicago, Detroit, and others as of late? We've been made to look the part of a fool, because we're not able to put up enough points. So you may be asking yourself, who exactly do we need to sell and what do we do after selling them?
Right now, our biggest piece worth selling is Martin Erat. Which breaks my heart, because Erat was one of the first guys to sign a long term deal with the Predators. But when push comes to shove, he's not a top line forward for anybody but us. What exactly could we get for Martin Erat? Well, I'm not really sure...it depends on how quickly we want this ship to turn around. We could trade him for an up and coming prospect, a guy like Tyler Johnson the second leading scorer in the AHL. His rights are owned by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the guy has 54 points in 55 games. Not to shabby...the only problem is, he's a Center. But is there any other team that would be a perfect fit for Erat? There is one, and they've got one hell of a prospect. The New York Rangers would be a perfect fit for Martin Erat, who could slide comfortably into their 2nd line and get them ready for a cup run. But who would we get in return? The 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft and a player I'm very high on, Chris Kreider.
Some of you may be skeptical to believe we could fetch Kreider, but he's currently in the dog house with the Rangers...hence why he is on the Whale's roster. Sounds like a very familiar story with one Colin Wilson. Chris Kreider is the man I'm highest on in exchange for a Martin Erat. But the big question remains, is there anybody else we have worth trading away? Some could argue David Legwand fits that bill, but I doubt the Predators would be willing to part ways with Legwand at this point, and furthermore I doubt anybody would give us anything worth trading him away for, plus if we moved him and Erat at once we'd be below the salary floor. But there is one more contender.
Some of you may have just broken your neck doing a double take, others may have been on this bandwagon long before I was. The point is, SK74 isn't producing like he once was and to be honest, I think it has a lot to do with how things went last year. Despite the fact Sergei didn't do anything wrong, he had to deal with watching his brother being kicked off the team for disobeying rules. And to be fair, he's never really recovered from it. I think he needs a change of scenery, a place where he could put his offensive talents to good use. That's why I'm looking at teams like the Lightning (again) or maybe even a team like the Maple Leafs would take him off our hands. If we're trading Sergei, we for sure need to try and obtain a first round pick...is it likely to happen? Not too sure, he's shown flashes of potential but he hasn't ever really solidified himself as a legitimate sniper. I think his moving on would be the best for all parties.
I hate giving up on my Predators midway through the season, but I've seen enough of this season to know we're not competing hard enough to make any noise. If we make the playoffs, we'll be a seven seed but at this rate I'd rather not even make the playoffs and just aim for getting a high pick. Where do you think the Predators stand? Is it time to finally man up and be a seller at the deadline? Or do we need to attempt to buy some more and risk giving up guys like Michael Latta and Austin Watson? I'm curious to see this new take on our season. As many of you know, I was one of the biggest pushers for us to become a buyer at the deadline, but with so many of our buys at the deadline just not panning out I'm ready to retool this Predators team. I think this is the perfect time to do it, it's not like we have much else to lose.