Although the Predators did not cash in on a big fish, David Poile executed a slew of moves that affect the pipeline now and in the near future. Below I’ll break down each move -- including those the organization lost and those it gained, a quick analysis of every player involved, the ramifications of each deal, and what was going on in Poile’s head when the trade calls were finished.
Nashville acquires Troy Grosenick [G] & Brandon Bollig [F] from San Jose for a 2018 6th round pick
This deal was Poile’s first move after flipping Pontus Aberg for a fourth-round pick. At first, it was a bit of a head-scratcher for me, but the more I’ve thought about it the more it makes sense.
Troy Grosenick [G] San Jose Barracuda, 20 GP, 2.98 GAA, .902 SV%
Grosenick is in his fifth professional season at the age of 28. He wasn’t acquired to be any part of the organization’s future in net, but I like the move as a way to curb Anders Lindback’s workload in Milwaukee. As we’ve mentioned many times this season, Jake Paterson and Matt O’Connor have largely been atrocious (the latter can’t even be successful in the ECHL), so Lindback has had to stop the bleeding all alone.
His AHL numbers haven’t been outstanding. Last season was his best yet when he finished with a 2.04 GAA and a .926 SV% in 49 games plus stellar numbers in 15 more playoff games. This tweet from Kevin Kurz sums things up well:
As strong as his 2016-17 season was, Troy Grosenick was being outplayed by the guy who was supposed to be his backup for the second time in three seasons in AHL. At 28 years old, probably time for both parties to move on.— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) February 25, 2018
He’s a solid AHL goalie but nothing spectacular. That’s about what the organization needs right now. He has a smaller frame but scrambles well and is agile enough to win battles that he probably shouldn’t. Below is a look at his Goals Saved Above Average this season. It isn't great, but you’ll notice he’s right below Lindback. I attribute that mostly to Milwaukee’s leaky defense this season. I’d be curious to see what kind of scoring chances they’ve been giving up in a heat map.
Here's Troy Grosenick (acquired by Nashville) and John Muse (signed by Philadelphia). pic.twitter.com/SavpRvDhhH— Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) February 26, 2018
One thing that I am curious about is Grosenick moving forward. He’s signed through next season which is nice. Lindback and O’Connor will be free agents this summer. I’m not convinced this prevents Vejmelka or Volkov from coming to Milwaukee next season because one has to imagine Poile is eager to get an actual prospect moving up in the pipeline, but it’ll be something to watch for sure.
Brandon Bollig [F] San Jose Barracuda, 45 GP, 8G, 2A, 10 PTS, 68 PIM
Bollig is the more confusing part of this deal, but after another deal yesterday, it makes more sense. For simplicity, I like to group a few Milwaukee players together as similar: Cody Bass, Brandon Bollig, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and Derek Army. To be clear, this isn’t me saying they’re all the same player. Bass is a decent pivot in the dot and a player the organization likes having around. However, he’s a free agent this summer and retirement might be looming as he’s struggled to stay healthy this year. Labrie and Army are more non-factors. Bollig reminds me a lot of the former but maybe a tad more impactful with good linemates. So, when Labrie and Army were shipped to Arizona yesterday the Bollig acquisition made a bit more sense.
I’m not sure Bollig will be re-signed for next year; he has no future in the organization. One thing to keep an eye on: Bass, Mark NcNeill, Trevor Smith and Harry Zolniercyzk are all free agents this summer. I would be shocked if all four are back with Milwaukee (retirement and other opportunities considered) so maybe Bollig does have a spot on the roster next season as the seasoned veteran.
A sixth-round pick is a decent price for these two. Nothing to write home about it.
Chicago acquires Victor Ejdsell, a 1st round pick and a 4th round pick from Nashville for Ryan Hartman
This is the big deal of the day for the organization. I just want to give a couple notes on Ejdsell.
I like Ejdsell a lot. I think he’s having a really solid season for HV71 while his role has been constantly changing. I’m not thrilled he was part of the Hartman deal, but it is what it is. He was still a project at a bit of an older age than what you’d like your AHL prospects to be. His skating isn’t magnificent, but his skill makes up for it. I think the argument that there isn’t a spot for him on the roster anytime soon is tiring because anything can happen over the coming years, but he’ll be replaced soon. Look for Poile to go back to Sweden this summer for another prospect, potentially.
Nashville acquires Tyler Gaudet and John Ramage from Arizona for Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Trevor Murphy
This deal probably doesn’t stand out on paper, but for a prospects nerd like myself it’s got me spinning circles. I can’t completely figure this one out, but I’ll do my best.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie [F] Milwaukee Admirals, 50 GP, 5G, 7A, 12 PTS, 57 PIM
Labrie, as mentioned above, is a player that Poile loves bringing in for Milwaukee: a seasoned veteran who isn’t that skilled but provides good leadership and a solid presence down the lineup. Still, his signing last summer was curious. I never felt he really fit in with the organization, so it’s not entirely shocking to see him go. It was hard to imagine him being re-signed this summer and the Bollig acquisition makes him somewhat obsolete. I think Poile anticipates some major changes in Milwaukee this off-season and wanted to get ahead of the curve while trying to somewhat stabilize a spiraling team down the stretch. Overall, this is a positive loss.
Tyler Gaudet [F] Tuscon Roadrunners, 48 GP, 11G, 11A, 22 PTS, 34 PIM
Gaudet is an interesting player. He’s 24 years old, was never drafted, and has already matched his highest point total in the AHL this season. He’s a natural center but can play wing as well. This is his fourth pro season, and he seems to be turning somewhat of a corner offensively — he’s already the sixth leading scorer on the Admirals.
He’s a big frame and an excellent defensive forward. I could honestly see him turning into a productive AHLer for the Admirals this year. Of anyone acquired, he seems the likeliest to get re-signed. Something to note as well: Poile seems to be trying to balance out the Admirals forward group. There are several players playing out of their natural positions and this move helps fix that (Trenin could stand to play more on the wing). He’s definitely an upgrade over Labrie, but this move shouldn’t impact the big club much.
His underlying numbers in the AHL (above) are solid - especially those measured per 60 minutes. He could probably stand to shoot a bit more, but I’m generally satisfied with this given the type of player he is.
Trevor Murphy [D] Milwaukee Admirals, 48 GP, 8G, 18A, 26 PTS, 69 PIM
I can’t even begin to express how devastated I was to see Murphy go. Those of you who have been reading along all year (you guys are awesome) know how much I love Murphy. This kid is a legitimate NHL prospect. His ceiling isn’t much higher than the bottom pair - maybe the second pair if you’re lucky - but he’s a player.
He was having an excellent year on a bad Milwaukee defense, has more points than Gaudet does, and was in line for a new contract this summer. I’m a bit surprised to see the organization go this route especially considering the return they got back.
The defense in Milwaukee is probably due for a major overhaul. Granberg, Oligny, Pinkston and Ramage will all be free agents. I think Poile is content with Allard, Carrier, Dougherty and Lyytinen, but we could see a new face down there soon. If I were to speculate, I’d say it could be Lawrence Pilut or a similar European free agent or maybe a contract for Dante Fabbro, but if neither happened and Granberg, Oligny, etc. came back, I wouldn’t be shocked.
You have to wonder if anything went down with Murphy and the organization. This reminds me a tad of when Taylor Aronson left. They’re similar prospects in a few regards, and I often think what would be if Aronson were still around. But, ah well. Seems Poile plans on keep Weber, Irwin, and Bitetto around for some time.
John Ramage [D] Tuscon Roadrunners/ Cleveland Monsters, 45 GP, 4G, 8A, 12 PTS, 53 PIM
Ramage is an AHL-journeyman type defenseman that we’ve seen much of in Milwaukee the past few years (Adam Pardy, Conor Allen, Patrick Mullen, etc.). He doesn’t move the needle much for me and may or may not be back next season. A hopefully steady presence that will try to cut down on mistakes for an inexperienced team seems to be his role.
He’s a minutes-eater that shoots a decent amount. Overall, he’s a quiet player; I don’t anticipate hearing much on him moving forward.
One last thing to note about this deal. Teams are generally less averse to helping other teams’ AHL rosters out. The Roadrunners are serious contenders this season, and this move helps them with that goal.
Tuscon acquires Derek Army from Milwaukee for future considerations
Derek Army [F] Milwaukee Admirals/ Wheeling Nailers, 43 GP, 8G, 16A, 24 PTS, 29 PIM
This one is pretty easy to break down. Army is a great ECHL player but mostly a filler in the AHL. Seems to me Fenton is clearing up the roster for ATO season and any ELC’s coming this summer (see below).
Milwaukee signs Mathieu Olivier
Mathieu Olivier [F] Sherbrooke Phoenix [QMJHL], 60 GP, 25G, 20A, 45 PTS, 78 PIM
Truly honoured and humbled to have signed my first pro contract with the Milwaukee Admirals! Huge thank you to everyone that made this possible! pic.twitter.com/TyyNQAdwdb— Mathieu Olivier (@mattolivier24) February 19, 2018
This move came a couple weeks ago, and it’s pretty interesting. The Phoenix have yet to finish their season and the contract seems to be for next season, so he would still have to come to Milwaukee on an amateur tryout to play this season once he’s done in the QMJHL.
Admirals Roundtable provided some further investigative work:
Purely speculation on my part but I wonder if Mathieu Olivier signed an ELC with NSH and an ATO for MKE. Sherbooke's roster now has him listed as NSH property: https://t.co/hg5j3205lI— Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable) February 21, 2018
I’m not sold on this idea, but it wouldn’t completely shock me. Olivier has attended the Predators rookie camp the past two summers (if I’m not mistaken).
I like Olivier’s production here. He’s putting up better numbers than Pavel Koltygin and shoots a lot. He could be an impact player for the Admirals next season. And, how could you not love his shooting heat map below:
That seems to be it for the deadline. We’ve got a lot of great content coming soon including playoff primers, scouting reports, mock drafts and rankings of all things prospects!
All stats are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and prospect-stats.com. All contract information is courtesy of capfriendly.com.