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Five-Hole Friday: A New Hope

In which we discuss new additions, the offseason, and the Blue Jackets.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The New Boys

If you missed Monday, you should know that the Predators have acquired Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund.

The Nashville Predators traded Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild on Monday in exchange for forward Mikael Granlund. The 27 year old forward will be an excellent addition to the Nashville lineup. He joined the team on Thursday after his fiancée gave birth to their first son on Monday.

Simmonds fills a role in the lower six. He’s a big body, needed for games against Winnipeg and St. Louis, but he can also add some goals on the power play. His acquisition is a bit curious, although he’d been linked in trade rumors to Nashville for several months. Brian Boyle provides a similar service in terms of net-front presence, goalie screening, and size.

Goodbye, Old Friends

Many Predators fans were unwilling to give up on Kevin Fiala so fast. He was drafted in 2014 and has spent time in Milwaukee and Nashville. He’s been moved to a growing team in Minnesota. With injuries to Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson this season, Fiala had a chance to step up and contribute. He remained maddeningly inconsistent and his ice time varied. In my mind, Fiala will always be remembered for his OT playoff goal against Chicago in 2017.

In September, I argued that Fiala was Nashville’s breakout winger for this season. He’s only managed 10 goals this season when most projected him to be in the 25-30 goal range. It’s safe to say that the Predators had high hopes for the winger, but they could no longer afford to be patient with his development. Nashville has to be more than a one-line team to succeed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ryan Hartman, acquired a year ago at the trade deadline in exchange for two picks, including a first-round draft pick, and prospect Victor Ejdsell, was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. He spent his first game in Flyers orange hitting everything that moved, endearing himself to the passionate Philly fans.

Hartman served a multi-tool role but didn’t exactly find a permanent home on a line in Nashville. He was a serviceable addition to the roster who was able to draw penalties.

There is zero doubt that Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala will be successful with their new clubs. Personally, I wish them the best of luck.

The Offseason

One of the things David Poile is good at is cap management. He’s widely praised for re-signing Ryan Ellis below what Ellis might have fetched with another club. If you look around the League, other teams are short on space for their big-name players. For instance, Winnipeg’s dilemma in re-signing Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Jacob Trouba, and several depth players is incredibly apparent.

In trading Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman, it’s been noted that GMDP doesn’t have to try to negotiate new contracts with either this offseason. Roman Josi can start negotiating his next contract, while Colton Sissons, Rocco Grimaldi, Cody McLeod, and Zac Rinaldo will need new deals if they wish to return in October. Josi’s will be the biggest, with Sissons also re-signing for reasonable term and price. I don’t see Poile parting with Grimaldi, and Rinaldo and McLeod are very inexpensive.

Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds are RFAs this summer, and we really don’t know whether they’ll seek to sign a new deal with Nashville or look for a roster spot elsewhere.

All-In in Columbus

The Columbus Blue Jackets surprised everyone at the trade deadline. Instead of trying to desperately sell off upcoming UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, they stacked their roster with Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid, and Keith Kinkaid.

Duchene showed some early chemistry in his first game with Columbus alongside Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson. It’s less apparent where McQuaid and Dzingel will skate, and Kinkaid provides goaltending depth behind Bobrovsky and Joonas Korpisalo.

In terms of moves, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen showed some serious bravery in acquiring players and parting with picks. The Blue Jackets only have 2 picks in the 2019 draft this summer.

Columbus is serious about making a big playoff push. What will they do with all these assets this summer, though? It’s not readily apparent, but Bobrovsky and Panarin could easily walk away to a contract with another team. Columbus is really embracing the “go big or go home” mentality.

Hopefully they don’t go home in the first round.