2018-19 Preds Trading Season Preview

Trade Season Preview

As the calendar flips into 2019, the Nashville Predators are continuing to run in the midst of the top teams in the NHL. After starting the season 13-3, injuries brought significant adversity as Forsberg, Subban, Arvidsson and Turris have all missed 10+ games at various points of the first half of the season. The remaining roster treaded water through Thanksgiving but the lack of firepower caught up with the Preds leading to a 6-game losing streak and a 10-game road losing streak. On the season the Preds are 13th in the league averaging 3.00 goals per game but have struggled mightily with the man advantage at only 15.1%, good for 24th overall. The defense and goaltending have been strong overall leading to a +20 goal differential but some more disciplined play from the Josi-Ellis pairing as well as the revolving 3rd pair would be welcomed.

The current version of the Predators roster is certainly good enough to win a Cup when healthy. But as we all know winning a Cup is really difficult so there is plenty of conversation among the fanbase and media around the idea of maximizing the roster for the playoffs. The 17-18 playoffs showed that the Preds struggled some with big, skilled teams such as Winnipeg although that series went a full seven games. In that same playoffs, the regular second line of Fiala, Turris and Smith went completely dry putting a greater strain on the JOFA line to produce. Looking ahead, the Predators have a lot of bodies to fill in the bottom 6 but could use another impact forward who can protect against the streaky nature of Fiala and Smith as well as any further injuries.

From here we will take a look at the categories of players available, some of the skaters in each category and identify some pros and cons of each.

(NOTE: Not including salary as the Preds will have plenty of cap space to acquire any contract for the remainder of the season. Cap space beyond the current season is a discussion for a different fanpost.)

Rentals (UFA after this season):

Artemi Panarin (CBJ) -€” Age 27, 12G, 43P, 101 SOG, 11.9%SH, 53.2%CF, 55.96%xGF

Of the possible trade targets Panarin is the biggest game breaker. With 2 30+ goal and 3 70+ seasons under his belt in his first four seasons he is a tremendously talented winger who can both score and distribute the puck. Since his trade to Columbus, Panarin has put up an 82 point season and is currently scoring above a point per game. If Columbus decides that they won't be able to re-sign Panarin, his services will come at a significant cost. At a baseline it would probably take a roster winger (Fiala), a high prospect (Fabbro), plus a high pick to move the needle. The Preds would need to aggressively pursue an extension to make the cost worthwhile.

Wayne Simmonds (PHI) -€” Age 30, 11G, 17P, 93 SOG, 11.8%SH, 50.4%CF, 50.66%xGF

Simmonds is the prototypical power forward. A big, strong winger with good hands he has found his spot scoring goals from the net front in Philly. Simmonds is also a solid defensive player. With 24+ goals in each of the last 5 full seasons, he would be a boon to the power play and add a gritty forward willing to mix it up in front of the net. With his heavy game and likely big next contract, Simmonds might be a pure rental costing a high pick and a plus-level prospect

Gustav Nyquist (DET) -€” Age 29, 10G, 34P, 111 SOG, 9.0%SH, 51.5%CF, 50.85%xGF

Nyquist has been an up and down player through his career scoring 28 goals in only 57 games during '13-'14 but seeing his production steadily decrease each of the next 4 seasons. He saw a resurgence last season and is putting up strong numbers on a bad Detroit team this season. Nyquist could be a talented add at a comparably reasonable cost if Detroit is willing to part with him. Perhaps a third round pick and a prospect would do the trick. Also Nyquist is young enough to entertain an extension.

Matt Duchene (OTT) -€” Age 27, 16G, 40P, 83 SOG, 19.3%SH, 45.6%CF, 45.88%xGF

How long have Preds fans dreamed of having Matt Duchene in gold? Duchene is a dynamic scoring center with tremendous speed and excellent finishing skills. Even on a poor Ottawa team he is posting strong offensive numbers although his goal scoring is buoyed by an unsustainable shooting percentage over 19%. Production from the center position come at a cost though and Duchene is no exception. Look for a rebuilding Ottawa team to ask a price similar to Panarin of a top 6 roster player, plus prospect and a high pick to star the conversation. Still only 27, Duchene would be a prime target for an extension but will likely command Johansen's contract or higher.

Mark Stone (OTT) -€” Age 26, 19G, 45P, 102 SOG, 8.74%SH, 53.0%CF, 55.8%xGF

Stone has flown under the radar somewhat with his time in Ottawa but he is easily one of the top two way wingers in the league. Stone is consistently in the 60 point range while being near the top of the league in takeaways. While in a contract year he is having a career season by almost every statistical measure including scoring at over a point per game. The cost for Stone would be in line with the other top wingers above likely requiring at least one high pick and at least one top prospect. Stone would also be an extension candidate given his age and production.

Mats Zuccarello (NYR) -€” Age 31, 4G, 14P, 47 SOG, 8.5%SH, 45.9%CF, 47.78%xGF

Zuccarello is a small, highly skilled winger who has been one of the better playmakers in the NHL for many years. He is excellent at controlling the puck in the offensive zone and creating opportunities for his teammates. His lack of size creates a bit of concern that with Fiala and Arvidsson the Preds would have a very small winger corps. Given Zuccarello's age he would likely be a pure rental for the Preds and would cost in the range of a mid-round pick and a middle prospect.

Non-Rentals (Contract past 2018-2019 season):

Jeff Carter (LAK) -€” Age 34, 7G, 17P, 99 SOG, 7.1%SH, 49.0%CF, 48.54%xGF

Carter has a long track record of scoring success both in the regular season and playoffs. Mired on a bad, aging Kings team he may be willing to take on a fresh start with a contender. Carter is not having a good season but a change of scenery may bring back some of the productivity he has displayed throughout his career. A 1-2 center corps of Johansen and Carter would create significant matchup problems with two huge centers anchoring those lines. Carter's age, term remaining and salary are all significant hindrances to making a move here.

Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) -€” Age 27, 11G, 22P, 137 SOG, 8.0%SH, 53.1%CF, 53.03%xGF

A 5-time 30 goal scorer by age 27, Tarasenko is an immensely talented scoring winger. This season has been a struggle as the new look Blues have failed to gel and sank to the bottom of the Central leading to reports that everyone is available for the right price. Adding Tarasenko to this Preds roster would immediately inject serious goal scoring into the nightly lineup. The cost will not be cheap though. Tarasenko's pedigree will net at least the cost for Panarin plus potentially extra picks/prospects given the term remaining on his deal.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM) -€” Age 25, 14G, 36P, 109 SOG, 12.8%SH, 47.8%CF, 46.7%xGF

Nugent-Hopkins has been loosely tied to the Preds for years as the Oilers were seeking defensive help and the Preds were at one time desperate for a top line center. Nothing came of it and the Preds went in a different direction but another opportunity arises! Nugent-Hopkins has developed into a very solid two way forward who has found himself playing largely on McDavid's wing this season. In the Preds roster he would fit as another flexible center/winger who could fit multiple roles and provide additional skill and scoring punch. With the Oilers desperate for defense, could the rights to Dante Fabbro plus a pick be enough?

Jamie Benn (DAL) -€” Age 29, 17G, 32P, 101 SOG, 16.8%SH, 50.3%CF

Even a few days ago I would not have considered Jamie Benn for this list but with the recent comments from the Stars CEO plus Elliotte Friedman's comments in the most recent 31 Thoughts that something is "off" between Benn and the Stars it is worth throwing his name into this piece. On-ice Jamie Benn is an excellent power forward. He has size and puck skills plus the ability to irritate opponents to no end. Benn is a 4-time 30 goal scorer who can play all situations and would fit perfectly in the Preds lineup. Acquiring Benn would be a serious blockbuster with a very high cost considering it would also be within the division. The Stars would almost assuredly ask for both Fiala and Tolvanen plus at least one other high value pick or prospect.

Prospects (Young skaters either not utilized or needing a change of scenery):

Continued success creates a challenge to continually foster high level talent. The Predators are no exception to this as they have largely drafted in the back half of the first round and have used a number of mid-round picks as trade deadline assets to bring in playoff depth. With defense depth still looking strong the Preds could look at some younger players either ready or almost ready for NHL duty.

Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM)

Puljujarvi just isn't working out in Edmonton, that much is obvious. The skill and production seen in his international play (17 points in 7 games in the 15-16 world juniors) just hasn't revealed itself at the NHL or even AHL levels. A change of scenery may be what's needed and if Edmonton wants to get good value, moving him while the shine of being 4th overall is still on him would be relevant. From the Preds perspective, Puljujarvi could be a good "buy low" opportunity to see if they can extract his full potential on the ice.

Josh Ho-Sang (NYI)

I will continue to beat the drum for Ho-Sang until he is wearing gold. Yes he is an enigma due to his high draft status, level of talent and reported attitude issues. Ho-Sang has been labeled selfish, uncoachable and uninterested in playing defense. On the flip side, he has tremendous talent with the puck on his stick and could help boost the production of the Preds middle 6 forwards. He is still very young and could certainly contribute positively in the right scenario. Remains to be seen if the new Islanders regime will wait it out or move on.

Julius Honka (DAL)

The lone defenseman on this list, Honka is a strong offensive talent on the back end who just isn't getting a chance with Dallas. Honka has lit it up at the AHL level and shown some progress at the NHL level (13 points in 82 career games). His possession numbers and shot totals look solid but a low PDO shows it may just be some bad luck that is keeping him from better production. Honka would be a significant add to the Preds 3rd pairing and would free up Dante Fabbro as a trade chip to upgrade the forward corps.

My Recommendation:

As much as YOLO Poile (admittedly my favorite Poile) would be so much fun in this case, I don't think the blockbuster move makes a whole lot of sense assuming the Preds are trying to keep the Cup window open beyond next season. Panarin, Duchene, Stone, or Tarasenko would all be tremendous additions to the Preds lineup but the cost is likely prohibitive given the relative weakness of the prospect pool. If I were GM for a day and could make a realistic move? I would be calling up Detroit for Nyquist and Dallas for Honka. Nyquist slots into the second line with Fiala and Turris pushing Smith into a 3rd line role where his speed and scoring touch will be very useful. Honka is an upgrade to the 3rd pair which helps prevent getting folded up in the defensive zone.

What would you do and who would you be willing to give up? Discuss in the comments below!

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This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? Post your own!