With the deadline looming, we figured we would go into one of your favorite topics: WILD TRADE SPECULATION. Well, that and the recent run of play. But we do our best to remain logical and fair, even through being fair kills off half of the fun.
Without further stalling....
1. What is the Predators’ biggest area of need going into the final push of the season?
Christopher Link: The Predators biggest area of need is systemic rather than personnel based. While the team won’t have to face 3-on-3 OT in the playoffs, they do need to make better breakout plays when in their own zone. The only way the team is going to improve in terms of personnel is addition by subtraction. Even that isn’t necessary once the roster restrictions relax after the deadline and the team can carry extra players.
Anish Patel: The Predators need to add some scoring depth at the deadline. They are getting some good production from the top two lines, but if they can add a 15-20-goal scorer to put on the third line, it might just be what to doctor ordered for this team.
Alex Daugherty: I see only one possible need: a veteran "stay-at-home" 7th defensemen to step in a play some minutes in the absence of anyone who may have to miss time down the stretch, such as with Weber missing last night (though that seemed precautionary). Jackman missing a night caused some scrambling that could be remedied with a roster move. It would also be nice to have someone to protect Granberg and/or Bitetto if they have off nights. Our defensive depth isn't what it was prior to the Jones-Joey trade. A boost there would be nice.
Marya K: Some sort of scoring bump on the wing. We can't trade to fix the goaltending and I think the defense is more than adequate. Whether it's Jimmy Vesey, Colin Wilson miraculously becoming useful, or some sort of trade, that's really the only area I believe we can reasonably improve.
George Scoville: Honestly, it's hard to pick just one--they're not a complete package right now. I don't know if we should expect to see more overtimes down the stretch or not, but it seems like solving the 3-on-3 puzzle sure would help us to not leave points on the table. We won't catch the top three in the division, but it would help us put some separation between us in the wild card spots and the West's cellar dwellers. Absent that, I would prioritize more consistent offense. "But we're doing all the right things" doesn't matter if you're golfing in April.
Jeremy Sargent: Consistent goaltending, which we have been getting lately. If Lavy can keep Rinne rested with extra play from Hutton, all the better. Hopefully getting Gabriel Bourque back can bolster our PK which has also shown signs of improvement.
Bryant Fair: Scoring depth. Bitetto and Granberg have been solid and add the necessary blue-line depth while Rinne and Hutton have looked good as of late. Whether it's through Vesey or a top six or nine scoring forward from another organization, adding an extra NHL-ready forward would be the move I'd be looking at.
Kris Martel: Depth, defense and/or help on the wing. After the trade to acquire Ryan Johansen just a month ago, the Predators have finally developed some consistent offense. The problem is there are still a few holes to fill. Calle Jarnkrok has done well as the top-line winger, but that shouldn't be his permanent spot. Neither should Nashville have to rely on either Petter Granberg or Anthony Bitetto for the sixth defenseman. The Predators barely earned a win without Weber last night. Imagine how that would work in a full playoff series...oh wait, we did see that...last season.
2. What assets would you be willing to part with to get Jonathan Drouin?
Link: I honestly am having trouble piecing together a package from the Predators that the Lightning would actually want. Drouin’s value may have been tarnished, but the market for the player is competitive and drives up his price. Most of the Preds’ most interesting assets are early in their development, representing even more nebulous value than Drouin’s. I think Poile is done with top six moves for the season, barring the addition of Vesey. If Drouin can be acquired for a 3rd liner’s price, I’m not all that bothered by the assets going the other way.
Anish: A few weeks ago, I would have been willing to part ways with either Viktor Arvidsson or Kevin Fiala. Now, I am not so sure. Drouin would definitely be a huge boost for this team, but him not getting playing time in Tampa is a concern. I think I would still be okay with giving up the likes of Miikka Salomaki or Colton Sissons, and a current full time roster player (Maybe Colin Wilson).
Alex: I am Drouin neutral. I don't think he's the answer to any problems, though he would be a nice asset. I wouldn't part with any talent above Pontus Aberg caliber to get him.
Marya: Not a whole lot. I'll admit he'd be a talent upgrade over Fiala, but I've never been bullish on Drouin even before this year's drama. I'd move Fiala or one of the Swedish wingers in Milwaukee plus a (non-first) pick.
George: Eh, I don't know that I'd part with much. Notwithstanding the strain his situation puts on Tampa in terms of distractions, and Yzerman appears ready to honor the trade request, I don't know that there's a deal to be had there that David Poile would make.
Sarge: I would hate to send problem child for problem child... but if Tampa was willing to go straight up Kevin Fiala for Drouin, I believe we would get a prospect back the likes of Forsberg in return. I watched Drouin in the rookie tournament up here a year ago and the kid is solid. He does have a cockiness about him, but with that skill set who wouldn't. A change of scenery could do wonders for both of these players.
Bryant: To get Drouin I'd be willing to give up any prospect except for Vladislav Kamenev (potential top six center) and Juuse Saros (potential number one goalie,) any forward not named Johansen, Forsberg, Neal, or Smith, and any draft pick. I don't see Drouin being moved until the summer, though.
Kris: To be honest, I'm not sure if this is even a trade that Nashville would want to partake in. Drouin has shown a Wilsonian approach in his time with Tampa Bay (like Dickensian, but in the form of Colin Wilson): flashes of brilliance, but unable to really put it together. If the Predators parted with anything, it shouldn't be anything more than a mid-to-low round draft pick and a prospect that may never see the light of day in Nashville -- like Pontus Aberg.
3. Does a Colin Wilson for Scott Hartnell trade make sense?
Link: I can’t see the benefit of picking up Scott Hartnell given his cap hit, contract term, and declining performance. If Hartnell were a rental, then I think the move would make sense as a means of potentially bolstering the third line for the playoffs. I’m always going to be wary about adding any multi-year contract that runs past the age of 32. At 33, Hartnell has three more years at a high cap hit. No need to add more bottom six players getting paychecks that are closer to $5 million than $4 million.
Anish: I think it makes complete sense. Hartnell adds much needed scoring depth and a veteran presence for a playoff push. Plus, who wouldn't love to see Hartnell back in a Preds' jersey?!
Alex: Nothing about Colin Wilson has ever made sense nor will it ever make sense. So, sure. Why not.
Marya: Ignoring my reflexive reaction to the idea of acquiring Hartnell, it does make sense, especially from the point of view of the punditry. Would I do it? Ehhhh.
George: If we could make that steal, absolutely. Our young players have far more to learn from Hartnell than they do from Wilson, Hartnell is more consistent than Wilson, and in the parlance of Barry Trotz, Hartnell "plays with sandpaper." Not only would it be great to see Hartsy in gold again (he was due for a pay raise after the '06-'07 season, but then The Great Fire Sale(TM) happened), it gives us a chance to get out from the overpaid, under-performing Colin Wilson experiment once and for all.
Sarge: Speaking of scenery change, Wilson for Hartnell would be amazing. I don't particularly like Hartnell's cap hit and age but his is still very productive in his role. Wilson is a bust with a capital B. Wilson is the Albert Haynesworth of the Nashville Predators. He only seems to bring it in a contract year and any other time he is a ghost or a mild distraction when he does something dumb like cough up the puck numerous times or miss golden opportunities. If the Predators can't get a guy like Wayne Simmonds, which would be my first choice, then Hartnell is a fine consolation prize.
Bryant: If the Predators can make that trade... they need to make the trade. It might take Hartnell a bit to get adjusted to the system (though playing for Laviolette before will greatly help) and his linemates but I don't see him being any less productive than Wilson is right now anyways.
Kris: 100 percent. Wilson needs a change of scenery in the worst way as his playing abilities dwindled under Barry Trotz and he just doesn't have what it takes to play in an up-tempo brand of hockey that Laviolette employs. What would probably do him wonders could be the crassness of John Tortorella. Losing Scott Hartnell was, in my mind, one of the most unforgiveable parts of the fire sale nearly a decade ago. He was just edging into his prime and would've been brilliant to have alongside Patric Hornqvist. He could come along and fix the left wing issue that Nashville needs addressed and become one of the more veteran players in the locker room.
There you have it. Mixed reactions across the board. Just how we like it. Would you rather see the team look to upgrade long-term assets and acquire Drouin? Or would you rather see them aim for the push this year and next and go for a guy like Hartnell? And what exactly is this team's biggest need? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.