It seems like just a couple of months ago that I was looking into a crystal ball, and in turn predicting what may or may not happen with trades in the upcoming months. I have to be honest, Michael Del Zotto for Kevin Klein really surprised me, while I feel like Matt Hendricks for Devan Dubnyk was a wash, it could be beneficial for the Predators to keep Dub as a backup while Hellberg and Mazanec develop further in Milwaukee. It could also get Dubnyk back on his career path working with quite possibly the greatest goaltending coach in the NHL (I sure wouldn't argue that one). But what about the rest of the team? How safe are they REALLY? I don't look at the Predators as a "REBUILD NOW OR DIE" project, I look at them as a retool and try to adjust project. With that being said, let us look at potential suitors for the Nashville Predators.
Let's face it, they're a really good hockey team. And honestly, they should be what the Predators base their rebuild off of. Notice how they got Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan (whom they eventually traded) and now they're a strong Stanley Cup Contender (even thought I'll never forgive them for dropping the Mighty out of their names). What exactly is Anaheim looking for? A veteran forward who can play along side Getzlaf and Perry. I am also of strong belief they could use a better second line Center to take some of the hard PK work off of Getzlaf. That could be fixed very easily for the Ducks, and the Predators might be the perfect team to do it. Here is the suggested trade...
Anaheim receives: F-David Legwand, Nashville receives: F Devante Smith-Pelly
Why Exactly Does This Work?
DSP has been in and out of the Anaheim lineup all year long, he's clashed with other Anaheim Forward Emerson Etem over playing time, and honestly Etem is the better of the two. The young sniper can score a lot of goals in the future as long as he is paired with the right linemates. Meanwhile, Devante Smith-Pelly IS the prototypical Predator forward. He can hit, he has a rocket shot, and he can forecheck like there is no tomorrow. Does it seem like the "rinse, wash, repeat" method we've been use to seeing for a while? Slightly, the difference being he has a strong presence at the net...much like one Patric Hornqvist. Here is a video to prove said point.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are always such an interesting team, when I heard that they always try to field a contending team despite the fact that they operate a lot in the red, I gained a lot of respect for the boys in teal. So what exactly does this team lack? Well for starters, their blue line is good but not great, not that we have anybody of interest in the department anyways since our only veteran defenseman is also our captain and is going nowhere anytime soon. But they could also use some forward help for the injured Tomas Hertl. They could be in the market for a forward who can play either the Wing or the Center spots. That sounds rather familiar doesn't it? So what could the Predators do to shake things up here?
If Legwand isn't traded to the Ducks or someone else...
San Jose receives: F- David Legwand, Nashville receives: F-Tommy Wingels
That's not bad...but there is another trade I like a lot better, and it works should the Ducks trade go through.
San Jose receives: F- Viktor Stalberg, Nashville receives: F- Tommy Wingels
Why either of these trades would work?
Both provide San Jose with something they need, depth and experience. David Legwand again provides a great veteran role for San Jose and could give them a great stopgap until Hertl can return to the team next season. Stalberg provides a bit more, since he is locked down for another 3 years after this one, he could be a strong winger for the Sharks on the second or third line, and might fair better in a new market (again). I had a lot of high hopes for Viktor Stalberg when he first came in, unfortunately those have been washed away with his lack of scoring power, it also doesn't help he's fallen out of favor with the coaching staff. Meanwhile, Wingels is a great fit for Nashville as he's stuck in that "I'm a second liner on a good team, but could be a first liner in Nashville" zone. He is a RFA at the end of the year, so if the Predators like his two way play (why wouldn't they?) he could end up here for another 4 year stint, and still only be 29. I'd relish having someone like Wingels, who is a two way player, but is a much better one than say...Nick Spaling. Also, he seems to have slightly fallen out of favor in San Jose with the uprising of Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture Let's take a look.
Not to shabby, not to shabby at all. Next!
*Gulp* Did I just say...the Red Wings?
I did. Let's face it, our hated neighbors to the north are no longer division rivals, and while I miss the rivalry I am aware that hockey is a business. The business of being a general manager is a tough one, but one that I would happily relish (like I'm doing now). Being in a tough business sometimes means making a move you wouldn't normally make, to a team whom you may or may not care for. That's the case here. So what exactly is the problem with the Detroit Red Wings? Well, for starters they just lost Zetterburg to a back injury, if that wasn't bad enough it's looking like he might be done for the season, leaving a SERIOUS gap in the Red Wing lineup. Don't expect a NHL ready prospect to come back in return, with that being the case, as I can see Nyquist, Tartar, and even Jurco to play very soon. So who does that leave? Well I'm glad you asked...
Why does this trade work?
If Nashville hasn't shipped Legwand off by now, this would be a huge get for them. Even if they did, I am sure a package of picks along with Cullen could be shipped out to Detroit for Mantha. The Red Wings are high on the young Power Forward, however they have always taken the win now approach. With so many veteran signings in the offseason, it fits perfectly that the Red Wings would dump Mantha to a team who can help them win now. Matt Cullen was brought in as a player who could be that veteran leader for the team's forwards. And he's has done a wonderful job, Craig Smith has came along nicely and while Colin Wilson is in a bit of a slump you can see his game starting to slowly turn back around. This is nothing against Cullen at all, I think he has done a great job here and I think he has been a big part of the success we have had...but again, hockey is a business. Cullen is exactly what the Red Wings could use, another leader to help the young guys out, and a solid two way player with Cup experience. If Legwand goes too, he could help by being a contributor in his hometown, a place where he could potentially retire if the cards fell right. Could we lose a second round pick this year, and maybe another next year? Sure. We could also potentially lose a prospect, maybe a second rounder and Taylor Beck to go with Leggy or Cullen. But to gain Anthony Mantha from that is on Filip Forsberg levels of theft. Imagine Forsberg, Mantha, and our future first round pick in the forward lineup with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson. It could lead to some very impressive showings. Let us look at the potential.
Okay, okay, last one.
New York Rangers
We already took them for a ride once, could we potentially do it again? They need roster help, but at the same time they want to dump their UFAs and gain guys under contract. Think similar to what the San Jose Sharks did last season. So how can the Predators help this cause? Well it's very simple...
Rangers receive: F Viktor Stalberg, Predtors receive: F Ryan Callahan
Why does this trade work?
Callahan doesn't fit the new system in New York, but he does fit the system in Nashville...almost perfectly. His shot blocking, his hitting, and his potential to put up 50 points in a season goes a long way. Also the fact that he's having a down year could help the Predators should they decide to resign him. If they don't, then they just bought themselves some cap space AND got rid of a bad contract at the same time. The free agent crop next year doesn't look super promising, but I would really enjoy seeing Callahan and Fisher on the same line, and it could really slow down the Blackhawks, Wild, and Blues. Stalberg has reasons listed above, mostly because he's fallen out of favor, but also because the Rangers now play a speed game...that's one thing Stalberg can do very well. Plus he's locked down long term, that has to make the boys in blue feel good. Let us take one last look at what Callahan can bring.
That's really all I got for now. Enjoy the rest of the season, and GO PERDS!