When we last left the esteemed Elliotte Freidman, he was speculating on whether Nashville would want to bring in a goalie before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. It was a good question, but one that ultimately didn't make a whole lot of sense in the long run.
Now in the latest 30 Thoughts, there is another purely speculative Predators nugget, this time about Colin Wilson and Scott Hartnell:
5. Trade that may only make sense to me: Scott Hartnell for Colin Wilson.
Been a rough year for Wilson, dropping from a career-high 20 goals in 2014-15 to four in 43 games so far. It's been a roller coaster relationship between him and the organization. The Predators know Hartnell very well and coach Peter Laviolette had him in Philadelphia.
Nashville would lose in age (seven years), and Hartnell makes $800,000 more per season, although that could be evened out. They both have three years remaining on their contracts.
Elliotte, you are not alone in thinking that makes sense for Nashville. It's been poked at on these boards for months, a topic of conversation on Preds Twitter, and we even mentioned Hartnell when we broke down players that may be available at the deadline.
There are plenty of reasons to both like and dislike this option, so let's dive in.
Wilson is having an awful year.
There's no way to sugarcoat that. After breaking the lid of his previous production last season and signing a four-year, $15.75 million contact, he's on pace for barely 26 points in 2015-16. Frequent bursts of invisibility are nothing new with Wilson, but it seemed those may have been behind him. Remember, last year he couldn't score to save his life, but the numbers suggested a turnaround was coming and it eventually did. This year, his metrics are OK, but he looks lost on the ice and can't even sustain a few games worth of points before falling back again.
Hartnell, on the other hand, is having a much better season. It isn't one of his best, but he's poised to crack 50 points again if things go well. Whereas Wilson is having trouble meshing around the lineup, Hartnell would be a sure fit on the top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal. All due respect to Calle Jarnkrok, who has done a fine job there, Hartnell is a large man that could open lanes on that line, and wreak havoc in front of the goaltender.
With the chances Johansen and Neal create, Hartnell would be there to clean up any garbage that's left over. Ditto for on the power play. It seems like an overused cliche, but Hartnell really could be the Wayne Simmonds type with the extra man.
And, as Freidman mentioned, Hartnell already has familiarity with Nashville, David Poile and Peter Laviolette. A change of scenery may do both of them some good. Nashville would shed an unproductive player for one that can help, Columbus gets rid of almost a million dollars in cap hit with the added bonus of a potential 20/20 guy. Would the Blue Jackets even want to take that chance, though?
The most glaring is Hartnell's age and contact. He'll be 34 in April and is signed through the 2018-19 season at an average of $4.75 million. His actual salary decrease in each of the remaining three years ($5 million, $4.5 million, $3 million), but that's a lot of money for non-guaranteed production on an aging player.
Wilson is probably closer to the 30-point player he's historically been rather than the 40-point player he was last year, but it'd likely be a safe bet to count on that for an aged 27-30 year old player than a 34-37 year old player. Nashville has seen their lineups get clogged with aging players on bad contract, and are finally starting to get out of them.
So maybe Columbus retains some salary? Maybe. They currently have about $13 million in cap space according to General Fanager, but their only expiring contracts are Rene Bourque and Justin Falk. They're also looking at having to sign Seth Jones, Boone Jenner and Dalton Prout. It's not out of the question, and even knocking the price down $1 million would make it look better.
There's also the issue of the amount of penalties Hartnell takes, and how Nashville's penalty kill borders on OK to just plain bad. (Yeah, it's been better lately, but why pile on added stress?) Putting Hartnell with the likes of Neal and Mike Ribeiro on the same team would ensure the penalty box would constantly be warm. Viktor Arvidsson and Miikka Salomaki are also starting to learn how to chip in, as well.
Hartnell's contract likely won't be great in a couple of years, but maybe that's a risk David Poile is willing to take to get in some production now and next season. Odds are slim that Wilson magically turns his season around and goes on a ridiculous scoring pace.
Hartnell, Johansen, Neal and Forsberg, Ribeiro, Smith is a legit top six. Better than anything they've had in recent memory. If Poile is really having buyer's remorse on Wilson, and wants to help is team with more than just a rental option, there are worse deals he could make.
But adding yet another aging player with term to a roster that is on the cusp of a youth influx is something to seriously consider.