We're in the final 24 hours leading up to the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline (2:00 p.m. Central on Monday), and the pressure is mounting for the Nashville Predators and other teams looking to make a significant addition to their lineup in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
So as we count down the hours, here's a quick primer for you...
What the Predators Need
After picking up Hal Gill, the focus has shifted to the forwards, which are probably one man short of being able to run three fully-stocked, effective two-way lines. A skilled offensive center to complement Mike Fisher and David Legwand would probably make the biggest difference, as opposed to a sniper on the wing (but that wouldn't hurt).
That said, there are a number of options as we've reviewed in our Trade Target series, including names like Mikhail Grabovski, Paul Stastny, Dustin Brown, and Derek Roy.
There is also the possibility that the Predators would add more of a role player, like a checker/faceoff specialist such as Paul Gaustad or Samuel Pahlsson, or an agitating winger like Steve Ott.
Lurking in the background of all these decisions is not just how well they might add to the Preds' chances of making a deep playoff run, but whether they will make enough of an impression on Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to convince them that Nashville is serious about being a primary contender for the Stanley Cup, not just another participant in the playoff dance.
I wouldn't be surprised to see David Poile acquire a player with years remaining on his contract rather than a pure rental, for example, as a statement in that direction.
Which Teams Are Selling
There are a few teams out there which are trading away currently effective players in exchange for draft picks & prospects, as they look ahead to building a better 2012-2013 season for themselves. Edmonton, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Montreal are either at the bottom of the standings, or have already made such trades in recent days.
What the Predators Could Give Up
If the focus is indeed on making a run with this time, right now, then just about anyone playing in the farm system could be fair game. Ryan Ellis would be the prize there, given his sterling credentials all the way up through the junior hockey and minor league ranks, and the offensive impact he has already made at the NHL level.
The Preds' 1st-round draft pick could also be made available for an impact, and it's also possible that if an acquisition is under contract for future seasons, a younger roster player could go the other way. Anything higher up than that, and you're taking away from a group which has maneuvered itself into playoff contention already.
Number of Trades on NHL Deadline Day
While it has become an annual tradition for GM's to complain that a lack of sellers could lead to not much happening, Trade Deadline Day typically ends up seeing more than a dozen trades and over 30 players switching teams. Here's how that trade volume has gone over the last 10 seasons. Even last year's Deadline, which had the fewest trades since 2000, ended up quite busy.
Nashville Predators on Trade Deadline Day
Compared to most teams, the Preds have recently tended to be relatively inactive on Deadline Day itself, although as we've seen in cases like Hal Gill, Mike Fisher, and Peter Forsberg, they often make these kinds of trades days or weeks ahead of time. Here's a look at what David Poile has done in years past:
1999 - Preds trade Blair Atcheynum to St. Louis for a 6th-round pick.
2002 - Preds trade Richard Lintner to the Rangers for Peter Smrek.
2003 - Nashville sends a 7th-round pick to Colorado in exchange for Alexander Riazantsev.
2004 - Predators trade Stan Neckar to Tampa Bay for a 6th-round pick, then send a 3rd-round pick to Colorado for Shane Hnidy.
2006 - Nashville trades Kris Beech and a 1st-round pick to Washington for Brendan Witt.
2007 - Preds sent Mikko Lehtonen to Buffalo for a 4th-round pick.
2008 - Brandon Bochenski acquired from Anaheim for future considerations. Preds also sent a 7th-round pick to Tampa Bay for Jan Hlavac.
2010 - Traded a 4th-round draft pick to Calgary for Dustin Boyd
Impact of Deadline Trades on Stanley Cup Winners
What GM David Poile Has To Say
David Poile recently joined the NHL Hour with Gary Bettman, and the Trade Deadline was the focus of the conversation: