The 2019 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and rumors around Nashville have been heating up—maybe more so than normal. After two moves last week, there has been a growing sentiment that General Manager David Poile is not done swinging and might be going for a home run.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun has connected the dots between Nashville and Artemi Panarin, including thoughts on a potential cost; Craig Custance ranked Nashville at the top of his lists of landing spots for Panarin; Bob McKenzie has thrown his hat into the speculation ring; and, finally, Elliotte Friedman has remarked a couple times that Poile could swing for the fences.
This is a lot more information than we’re used to hearing about Poile at the deadline, so what’s the likelihood of it happening? That’s above my pay grade, but I can give you a brief history of Nashville in this scenario. The ask for Panarin seems to be a first-round pick, a high-end prospect (i.e. Tolvanen), and another young player with upside. So, in the vein of Tolvanen, does Nashville have a history of trading top prospects like this? Short answer is that this is more or less uncharted territory, but there is some interesting background here.
To truly understand David Poile’s propensity to move highly-touted prospects, you have to travel back to March of 2001 when Poile made the earth-shattering deal to send Ryan Tobler to the New York Rangers for...ah, just kidding, Ryan Tobler played like four games in the NHL.
By my count, there have been five bigger moves involving prospects at the top of the depth chart on the move at the trade deadline. I’d consider only one of them to come close to the magnitude of acquiring Artemi Panarin or Mark Stone, but all were done with the Stanley Cup in mind.
Timofei Shishkanov (LW) - January 29, 2006
Nashville started the 2005-06 season on an 8-0-1 tear, becoming the last team in the league to lose in regulation that season. The night before the trade went down, Nashville suffered a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets but still sat with a record of 31-14-6 and 0.667 points percentage on the season.
Drafted at the beginning of the second round in 2001, Shishkanov made his North American pro debut in 2003-04, appearing in 63 games for Milwaukee and scoring 43 points. Shishkanov regressed to 35 points in 70 games the next season, but was back up to 29 in 46 games in the 2005-06 season when he was traded.
On January 29, David Poile shipped Shishkanov off to St. Louis for center Mike Sillinger, who was having a career season with 22 goals and 41 points in 49 games for the Blues. The trade helped Sillinger set a league record for most teams played for and he was an integral middle-six forward for Nashville adding ten more goals and 22 points in 31 regular season games.
Nashville finished second in the division with 106 points, but bowed out to the fifth-seed San Jose Sharks in five games in the first round. Sillinger was the team’s third leading scorer in the playoffs with three points. Sillinger signed with the New York Islanders as a free agent in the 2006 off-season.
Blake Geoffrion (C) - February 17, 2012
Going into February 17 in 2012, Nashville had compiled a record of 33-18-6 and had a contest at Detroit that night that would result in a 2-1 loss. With their sights set on a deep Cup run, Nashville traded fan favorite Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a second-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for defender Hal Gill and a fifth-round pick. Geoffrion was by no means an elite prospect, but he had an impressive AHL debut with 37 points in 45 games. Geoffrion struggled in the 2011-12 season, with only three points in 22 games for Nashville and nine points in 20 games for Milwaukee.
Gill rounded out an impressive top-six that featured Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein, Roman Josi, and Francis Boullion. Ryan Ellis and Jonathan Blum split the season between Nashville and Milwaukee, and not-top-six defender Jack Hillen suited up for 55 games.
Ellis, Hillen, and Gill split the sixth-defender duties for ten games in the playoffs as Nashville lost in five to the Phoenix Coyotes in round two.
Geoffrion only played ten more AHL games the next season before retiring, Gill was re-signed to a two-year deal but was bought out after the 2012-13 season, and the Canadiens used the second-round pick to select Dalton Thrower. So, basically a wash for all parties involved.
Brendan Leipsic (LW) - February 15, 2015
As the first season under Peter Laviolette progressed, Nashville found themselves with another shot at going for the Cup. On February 15, they sat with a record of 38-12-6 and then acquired two of the hottest names on the rental market. Nashville sent Brendan Leipsic, Olli Jokinen, and a first-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for former Predators Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli.
Leipsic was tearing up his first season in Milwaukee with 35 points in 47 games, but Jokinen was struggling and this was an opportunity for Nashville to shed that contract. Franson had posted 32 points in 55 games for Toronto that season, and Santorelli had 29 points in 57 games, but they combined for only eight points in 45 games down the stretch for Nashville.
Nashville lost in six games to Chicago in the first round, where Franson and Santorelli played five and four games, respectively, scoring three points total. Also, with Shea Weber out for the rest of the series, Franson was only given 13:01 total icetime in a game that went to triple overtime.
Leipsic has bounced around the NHL with stops in Vegas, Vancouver and Los Angeles since; Franson is in the KHL and Santorelli is retired; and the first-round pick ended up in Philadelphia and was used to select Travis Konecny.
Victor Ejdsell (C) - February 26, 2018
This one is probably fresh in a lot of fans’ minds, so I won’t spend too much time on it. As Nashville geared up for a likely showdown with Winnipeg in last year’s playoffs, Poile sent European free agent Victor Ejdsell, a first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick to Chicago for Ryan Hartman and a fifth-round pick.
Hartman tallied three goals and six points in 21 games down the stretch and added three more in nine playoff games as Winnipeg eliminated Nashville in seven games in the second round.
Hartman took a bridge contract in the summer and has nine goals and 18 points in 57 games for Nashville this season; Ejdsell came on strong as nearly a point-per-game player in the AHL playoffs last season but only has 19 points in 40 games for Rockford this season; the picks Chicago acquired were used to select Nicolas Beaudin and Philipp Kurashev; and Nashville selected Spencer Stastney with the selection they acquired.
Ryan Parent (D) - February 15, 2007
This trade is probably the closest Poile has gotten to what could potentially go down in the coming weeks. It’s easy to make fun of Ryan Parent now, but he is easily the highest profile prospect Nashville has ever traded, ranked as the best defender in the 2005 draft class and selected 18th overall that year. Parent played his final two years of junior hockey in the Nashville pipeline before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers with Scottie Upshall, a first-round pick, and a third-round pick for Peter Forsberg as Poile loaded up for likely their best shot at the Cup unto that point and one of the best in franchise history.
Things worked out alright, as Parent went on to play 106 regular season games in the NHL but never became the defender he was expected to. Upshall went on to play 11 more seasons in the NHL, maxing out at 37 points a season; Nashville went on to reacquire the first-round pick and used it to select Jon Blum; and the third-round pick landed in Washington, where the Capitals used it to select Phil DeSimone, who managed 156 career AHL games.
Forsberg is the most high-profile deadline acquisition in franchise history and just what the team needed to push them over the edge. The 2006-07 Predators finished with 110 points—the second best regular season in franchise history—and Forsberg contributed 15 points in 17 games down the stretch, plus four in five playoff games, as Nashville collapsed in those five games to a dominant San Jose Sharks squad.
Nothing will exactly compare to a potential move for Panarin or Stone at this year’s deadline, but the Forsberg trade is a good benchmark. That team played a mostly excellent regular season and finished just behind an even better Detroit Red Wings team. The damage done to the pipeline, although unknown at the time, was non-existent as Jon Blum skated in just four more regular season games than Parent did, and it’s likely we could be writing a different story about the 2006-07 Predators had a few things gone differently against San Jose (maybe second or third round...that 2007 Ducks team was impassable).
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.