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David Poile, Dealmaker Extraordinaire

Nashville Predators GM David Poile must have been inspired by my "Let's Make a Deal" post yesterday, because in just over 24 hours since then he's made some strong moves to help alleviate roster imbalances that threatened to impede the team's progress, and positioned the team to start the 2008-9 NHL season much stronger than the year before.

First, he sent enforcer Darcy Hordichuk to Carolina for a 5th-round pick, opening a forward slot that may be available to one of Nashville's prospects. Next, he signed pending free agent goalie Dan Ellis to a 2-year, $3.5 million contract. As a consequence, Chris Mason was then sent to St. Louis for a 4th-round pick. With those moves, Poile resolved a bottleneck in goaltending, and by presumably starting next fall with Ellis as the #1 and Pekka Rinne as backup, the Predators will only be spending $2.3 million on that position, which allows for some of that money that's been going to core players with new contracts (like Ryan Suter, David Legwand, J.P. Dumont and Martin Erat).
Preds GM David Poile, at least for today...

Now, as the 2008 NHL Draft commences, word comes that Poile has made the boldest move yet; moving up in the first round from 9th to 7th by sending the New York Islanders an additional pick (the 40th) this year*. This allowed them to select Colin Wilson, a big center from Boston University who was rated #8 in TSN's draft rankings. From the TSN profile, it looks like Wilson brings a good combination of size, speed and defensive responsibility, which would appear to make a good fit with Barry Trotz's system.

If Wilson can make the Predators roster this fall, there might be a good opportunity for him as a third-line center; Nashville's top two lines fared well last year, and Scott Nichol anchored a solid checking line, but the Radek Bonk/Jerred Smithson combination that saw most of the third line duty simply got abused (witness Bonk's league-lagging Plus/Minus figure of -31). Granted, with draft picks it's probably unrealistic to expect an immediate impact, so he might need some seasoning in Milwaukee before joining the Predators in Nashville.

Either way, I'm glad to see the Preds make a move to bolster the center position.

Later on, Poile traded down from #15 to #18, in exchange for getting a 3rd-round pick from Ottawa in 2009. That allowed him to draft Chet Pickard, the top goaltender this year, to help stock the cupboard in net for the long term.

*As one of the folks on the Predators message boards pointed out, those two picks are the ones acquired from Florida in last year's Tomas Vokoun trade.