While I am not usually one for speculation, the thought of the Predators trading up in the draft has been in my mind for the last couple of days. The main reason I would consider this a possibility for the Predators is three fold. 1) The Predators probably will have an extra second round draft pick, 2) they have plenty of depth in the pipeline and 3) they do not have a forward that can act as a centerpiece to their offense.
1) Extra Second Round Pick
If the season was to end today, the Predators would be getting Detroit's second round pick. The last time the Predators moved up in the first round was in 2008, where they traded the 40th overall pick and their 9th pick for a 7th overall pick and chose Colin Wilson. This extra pick would be very useful in trading up in the draft. In this draft, though, the Predators need to get into the top five in order to get the scoring forward they need. Assuming the Predators stay at the ninth spot, this would mean either parting with a prospect or trading two second round picks. The two second round picks would probably be the best option.
2) Organizational Depth
For a team to make a trade that would send three picks for one, they would need to have a bigger need for one prospect than for three. The Predators, thankfully, have a good amount of organizational depth and can afford to make this move.
They have a few of solid offensive forwards in Aberg, Forsberg, Jarnkrok and Vesey, some good two way forwards in Watson, Beck, and Leipsic, and a few defensively talented forwards in Salomaki, SIssons and Girard. Always strong defensively, the Predators have Diaby and Vainonen in the pipeline. They are also, as usual, very deep in goal with tenders like Saros, Mazanec, and Hellberg.
3) Offensive Centerpiece
As you can see, the Predators are pretty much set in all areas in the draft. The only problem is, other than maybe Forsberg, these players will not be putting up 60+ points a season on a regular basis. This is also, obviously, one of the main problems on the starting roster. A scoring forward is a real need for the Predators and that is what the point of the draft is, to fill needs. If they got into the top five, the Predators would be looking at drafting a player that could potentially be that player for them.
The team that make the most sense to trade to would be the Calgary Flames. With Monahan, Gaudreau, Reinhart, Baertschi, and Poirier, they have several very good players to build upon. Right now, they need defense, goaltending and more depth and unless they win the lottery, they will not be getting that defenseman they need in Ekblad at the number 4 spot. If they traded back to the Predators for a first and two seconds, they could start to look at Haydyn Fleury or another forward to support those players. There is also a plethora of goalies and defenseman that should go around the second round.
Who They Would Be Drafting
If the Predators were to be in the fourth spot in the draft, they would probably be looking at Sam Bennett, Michael Dal Colle, and Leon Drasiaitl, in that order, if I had to guess. All three of those players know how to put the puck in the net and the Predators really couldn't go wrong with any of those three. Not only do they fill a scoring need for the Predators, but they fill a current positional need for them as well; they are all C/LWs. Draisaitl and Bennett are probably your best bets for first line centers, while Dal Colle would probably be most effective along the left side.