[On the Forecheck community members Boyd and Paul bring us some analysis in this fanpost, which we've featured with the rest of OTF's articles. Thanks for the hard work, Boyd and Paul!]
The 2018-2019 season for the Nashville Predators has come and gone. The positives? A second consecutive Central Division title despite significant injuries and a new single-season goal-scoring record set by Viktor Arvidsson. The negatives? A wildly inconsistent team filled with injuries, a historically inept power play, and a loss in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Stars. The Nashville Predators are left with a familiar lingering question: where does this team find the scoring such that it does not have to rely so heavily on defense and goaltending?
Boyd: So here we are again, Paul, speculating how the Predators and David Poile will go hunting for scoring talent in the forward corps. In his postseason press conference and subsequent interview with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic General Manager David Poile all but assured that changes to the roster were coming, which is a stark contrast to the ’17-‘18 offseason where Poile followed the players’ requests and kept the roster largely intact. Let's take a look at some of the obvious fits, the bold moves that could be made, and a few under-the-radar possibilities that won’t break the bank.
Paul: I start off this absurdly fun article the only way I know how, with the Russian god Artemi Panarin. Here is what you need to know about the player who would immediately become the most talented player to ever put on a Predators uniform. He will not be wearing a Predators uniform. He’s going to drink vodka on a beach in Florida the rest of his career and enjoy every minute of it. Well…that or spend the rest of his money paying New York taxes. Choose wisely, Artemi!!
Seriously though, this was fun to write. I enjoy this type of stuff and the needless experimenting on CapFriendly. The flaming hot takes like "Matt Duchene isn’t as great a signing as we all believe" are fun and usually lead to some odd debates. So I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. Lastly, just so we are all clear, I’m right and Boyd is wrong. Enjoy!
Option 1: Sign UFA Matt Duchene
Duchene (31G, 39A, 70P, 14PPP, 172SOG, 46.8CF%, 48.26xGF%, 48.52HDCF%)
Paul: The man, the myth, the soon-to-be-overpaid free agent. That’s right, I think whoever signs Matt Duchene will live to regret it. A 28-year-old about to sign a large UFA contract coming off a career year isn’t exactly a good idea, but that doesn’t mean I think the Predators shouldn’t do it.
Looking at just about any metric outside of straight points Matt Duchene is somewhere between average and good. I do not think he drives play or defends at a particularly elite level. His expected goals, shot rates, high danger chances, and others were right at or slightly above breaking even relative to his teammates over the past 2 years. CF%: (-.68), xGF% (0.56), HDCF% (-0.64), Hockey Viz offensive threat: AVERAGE, and Hockey Viz defensive threat: +1%.
Looking at Evolving Hockey’s contract projections he should come in somewhere around 6 years and 7 million dollars. However, I think that prediction is conservative for Duchene and would expect him closer to 8 or 9. If it is that number I believe it is an overpayment relative to what he will bring to the ice. However, as I said, I am definitely okay with this one. Here is why: with as many areas as Duchene falls short of his name recognition, he does live up to the hype in a few areas--specifically, speed, transition, and shooting talent.
Looking at CJ Turtoro’s A3Z visual based off Corey Sznajder’s data, Duchene enters the zone with possession and contributes to the offense at a fantastic rate. That alone makes him worth the price for me, especially if the number is closer to 7 than 9. Furthermore, I think from a pure production standpoint Duchene’s remaining good years will align with the rest of Nashville’s window. While I maintain the belief that before it is over this will end up being a contract that hinders a team, if you win a cup it doesn’t matter.
For the next year at a minimum, he can skate, shoot, transition the puck into the offensive zone with speed, and he finally won’t cost a player in return. All of this said, I do not believe Matt Duchene will end up in Nashville for one small but key reason. After years spent unable to control his circumstances and playing for some of the most historically awful teams, I think he will request a no-trade clause and that may be the thing that lands him elsewhere.
Boyd: So the Matt Duchene Saga will finally reach its epic conclusion. You’ve already gone into the statisticals so I’ll stay away from that, but Duchene provides two specific skill sets that the Predators need more of: speed and finishing. Maybe it was just the myriad of injuries or a systemic adjustment that was a more conservative pace but the Predators team just looked…slow…outside of Arvidsson, Grimaldi and Josi. Duchene has serious wheels and will help push the pace of play to create more opportunities off the rush.
Second, outside of Forsberg and Arvidsson, the Predators just did not seem to be able to pick the spots to beat goalies. Duchene can flat out score the puck; 31 goals on under 200 shots is a heck of a scoring rate. While that may not be fully sustainable, lining him up with the talent currently residing on the roster can create additional high danger chances. The Preds should also look at enhancing that wing positions, but more on that later.
If David Poile can keep the contract at or under $8M per season then I would consider it fair market value. Anything over 8 would be starting to creep into overpay territory. Duchene was not my first choice of UFA’s (come back Jeff Skinner), but I’d certainly be happy to see him in gold.
Option 2: Sign UFA Jordan Eberle
Eberle (19G, 18A, 37P, 12PPP, 160SOG, 49.28CF%, 42.62xGF%, 54.44HDCF%)
Boyd: Another victim of one of Peter Chiarelli’s "what is he thinking?" trades, Jordan Eberle has found himself with an opportunity to choose his own destiny. While he maybe isn’t the marquee name that he was a few years ago, he finds himself near the top of the UFA winger class after Skinner re-signed to stay in Buffalo.
Eberle has always been a talented goal scorer who isn’t afraid to work near the net. Despite being on some pretty bad Oilers teams and a decidedly average Islanders team, Eberle has been a consistent goal contributor across his 9-year career. Eberle has hit 25 goals four times and (removing the lockout-shortened season) has only been below 20 goals twice. While his possession numbers for last season don’t look very good, keep in mind that of the regular forwards, only Mathew Barzal was above 50%CF. If we look at Eberle’s two years with the Islanders, he has led the team in individual high danger CF, rush attempts, and is 3rd in rebounds created.
All that says he is generating offensive chances for himself and his teammates. The Predators need more forwards who can create chances on their own. In terms of roster fit, Eberle is a better version of Craig Smith and should slide into the second line with Turris and Granlund. His shoot-first mentality is a good fit on that line. Smith slides into a 3rd-line role where he can use his speed and forechecking to increase the production of the bottom-6.
Contractually, Evolving Hockey projects Eberle to get an AAV of approximately $6M over a 7-year contract. Given Eberle is 29 I would prefer a shorter term, but a $6M contract for a winger who consistently hits 25 goals with positive offensive analytic contributions would be a good addition for the Predators.
Paul: I really like Eberle and highlighted him in last offseason’s edition of this piece. He would be an upgrade over Smith and while not a monster in transition, he exits his own zone very well and contributes to the offense once in the attacking zone. In fact, once in the zone Eberle drives offense to the net at a pretty elite rate.
The problem I have with Eberle is the same as Boyd. The term on that contract is rough. 6 years for a soon-to-be 30-year-old is less than ideal. However, similar to Duchene, if it makes you better for the next 2-3 years that is your window. Therefore, the more I think about this, the more I really, really want to see him in Nashville.
Option 3: Mitch Marner for P.K. Subban, Rem Pitlick and a 2020 4th round pick
Marner (26G, 68A, 94P, 21PPP, 233SOG, 51.83CF%, 52.80xGF%, 55.49HDCF%)
Boyd: Let’s face it, the ONLY reason Marner is even remotely available as a trade asset is the combination of the massive salary cap restrictions that Toronto faces and their absurd bounty of talented forwards.
You might look at Marner’s sub-30 goals combined with almost 70 assists and peg him as more of a distributor than the goal scorer Nashville needs, but he also took 233 shots on goal, which still would have led all Predators players. Also, he played a lot of time with high-level goal scorers in Matthews and Tavares, which limited his goal scoring--especially with the man advantage, where Marner potted a mere 3 power-play goals.
Marner has rounded into an incredibly productive winger who is excellent at controlling the play in the offensive zone and either pulling the trigger on his solid wrist shot or making pinpoint passes to his teammates. From a lineup perspective, Marner might actually belong on the first line with Johansen and Arvidsson. Johansen won’t take goal-scoring chances away from Marner and Arvidsson provides the forechecking energy and shoot-first mentality. Forsberg moves to the second line where he can be the shoot-first winger alongside Granlund and Turris. Marner would also be an excellent half-wall option on the power play.
The cost to acquire and retain Marner is two-fold. First, he’s an RFA so his rights would need to be acquired, and second he needs that new contract and it will be a big one. Toronto fashions itself a Cup contender and has a glaring weakness at right-handed defense. While many Preds fans would rather trade Ryan Ellis first, he doesn’t carry the trade value of Subban. Accounting for the age gap and Marner’s production it will likely require a young, cheap and versatile forward who is NHL capable (Pitlick). Preds also toss in a pick to round out the offer. For his contract, Marner has reportedly asked for upwards of Auston Matthews’ $11.6M AAV. Marner is not a center and does not have the goal-scoring pedigree of Matthews so a max length contract at $10.5M AAV should be about right.
Paul: To paraphrase a quote from my favorite show of all time, "If I had to put a percentage on Marner’s chance of being traded to Nashville it would be none percentage." Marner is really, really, really good at the hockey.
Apart from the things Boyd already laid out, one thing that often goes unmentioned with Marner is how good he is defensively. Per HockeyViz’s model Marner actually carries a -9% defensive threat. Putting that in perspective, Patrice Bergeron carries a -12% threat (which strangely enough is the same as Colton Sissons who once scored in a Stanley Cup Final Game #NeverForget!!).
All of that to say, Marner is a legitimate star and game-changing player on both ends. If he can be had you pay the price. I actually think Nashville and Toronto make great trade partners here except for the age. Marner being as young as he is probably means Toronto will want elite young players back. That doesn’t eliminate Nashville, but it does make a team like Carolina who can throw just as many good defensemen at them that are also all 25 or younger serious competition. Similar to Skinner, I think they get it done. Marner will want to be in Toronto for endorsement money alone, and weirdly enough it sounds like someone is going to help Toronto out of cap hell. He would be the perfect player to add.
Option 4: Jonathan Drouin, Cale Fleury and a 2019 2nd round pick for Roman Josi
Drouin (18G, 35A, 53P, 16PPP, 190SOG, 51.93CF%, 48.37xGF%, 45.99HDCF%)
Boyd: If we’re being honest, the 2013 draft probably should have played out with Jonathan Drouin falling to Nashville at number four given McKinnon being awesome, Florida’s desire for a big center, and how amazing Seth Jones would be in Tampa right now. Everyone in the Predators fandom knows how it turned out. Seth Jones fell instead and he was eventually flipped for Ryan Johansen.
When Drouin was traded to Montreal, he was hailed as the #1 center that Montreal needed. One problem: he’s not a center. In two seasons with the Canadiens Drouin has been productive, if unspectacular. Between Tampa and Montreal there have been plenty of flashes of the high-speed, high-skill talent that put up back to back 100+ point seasons for Halifax in juniors, but a lack of consistency makes Drouin remain an enigma.
So why trade someone the caliber of Roman Josi for him? Well, it’s a combination of potential and practicality. Drouin has boatloads of potential and he’s still young. Plus he’s fast, really fast. It was apparent throughout the season that the Preds team just isn’t fast enough up front, outside of Arvidsson and Grimaldi. Drouin instantly jumpstarts the speed of the second line and adds a highly skilled winger alongside Turris and Granlund. Contractually Drouin has 4 years remaining at a very reasonable $5.5M.
For Montreal the swap makes a lot of sense as the team tries to maximize the remaining years of Carey Price and Shea Weber. One of the major lacking pieces for the Canadiens roster is a high-end puck-moving defenseman. Pairing Josi back up with Weber reunites one of the most productive defensive groupings in the entire NHL. Given Josi’s level of play, the Preds can reasonably ask for a pick and a prospect as part of the deal. Removing the Drouin contract from Montreal also likely provides the needed cap flexibility for Montreal to re-sign Josi next summer. Nashville, meanwhile, gains a young high-talent winger on a reasonable contract with term, as well as multiple pieces to help the pipeline.
Paul: This is one of the more intriguing ideas we came up with, in my opinion. From a hockey rumor perspective it makes no sense. I do not think I have heard a single thing about Montreal moving a forward. However, it does make a bit of hockey sense. Josi is the superior player, no doubt. He is also older and not cost-controlled.
Drouin would provide some of the speed and skill Nashville has been missing. As an upgrade over Smith I think you have a player that next to Turris and Granlund or Duchene and Granlund would have consistent 55-65 point potential.
The only question to me becomes, would Montreal do it? If you look at last year’s standings Montreal just missed the playoff cut with 96 points. Had they played in the west they would have made the playoffs by 6 points and beaten the Golden Knights for 3rd in the Pacific. All that to say, it is reasonable to believe Montreal might think of themselves as a playoff team. If that is indeed the case, possessing the better player in Josi may make sense. Still, I’d rate this far lower in terms of likelihood than some of our other ideas.
Option 5: Phil Kessel for P.K. Subban
Kessel (27G, 55A, 82P, 36PPP, 215SOG, 46.75CF%, 48.74xGF%, 47.91HDCF%)
Boyd: Here we go with the trade between two players who are perennially on the media’s trade block despite how productive they are. And look, I don’t want to trade P.K. Subban. In fact, I would search out any number of alternatives to moving him.
But Phil Kessel has had a long career of goal scoring in Boston, Toronto and Pittsburgh, including six 30-goal seasons. In fact, Kessel hasn’t been below 20 goals (including the lockout-shortened ’12-’13) season since 2007. The past two seasons have seen Kessel go for 92 and 82 points respectively, the highest and tied for second highest point totals of his career, so even in the relative twilight of his career the production has not fallen off.
Kessel’s strength is to drive the rush and use his elite level wrist shot to score. In fact, in the four seasons Kessel has been with the Penguins he has led the team in attempts off the rush (though it is interesting that both Forsberg and Arvidsson have each had more). The other important point is Kessel’s power play production, where he ranked 5th in the NHL in power play points.
The risks with Kessel are defense, age and term remaining on his contract. Kessel is not a particularly capable defensive forward. As seen with his possession numbers, despite all that scoring production he is sub-50% in possession, expected goals, and high danger changes. He is currently 31 and has three more years on his contract at what would be a cost to the Predators of $6.8M per season (Toronto retained $1.2M when they traded Kessel to Pittsburgh).
So is giving up P.K. Subban worth it to add Kessel to the Preds' lineup? That’s tough because Kessel would add so much needed offensive firepower, but Subban in many games is the straw that stirs the drink coming from the back end.
Paul: Boyd should be a used car salesmen. Saying Kessel is not a particularly capable defensive forward is like when the old guy comes out of the office to tell you that 2002 Corolla has only had one accident. Kessel is a DISASTER in his own zone. This is not a trade I would love if it means a 1 for 1 with one of the top 4. Maybe you sell Pittsburgh low and shoot for Smith and Jarnkrok for Kessel, but I think you are getting into fantasyland with that.
Make no mistake, Kessel is an elite offensive threat and would help upgrade the powerplay. However, you have to get this at the right price. He won’t be playing next to Malkin. It will be Turris or Johansen. That is a major step down. He’s without a doubt an upgrade as a pure offensive player. That is right in the vein of what Poile has been seeking and I could see it happening if Nashville makes his trade list. Still, buyer beware on this one for me.
Option 6: Sign UFA Brandon Pirri
Paul: This guy, this guy right here might be one of my favorite under-the-radar pickups for a team this offseason. At the NHL level he has struggled to find a home. However, at nearly a point per game in the AHL last year and 42 in 29 AHL games this year, he at a minimum could seriously help Milwaukee. I, however, believe he is much more than that. When he’s on the ice at the NHL level his isolated impact rivals some of the better forwards around.
While this may not be a full picture, it does show he can hold his own and with 12 goals in 31 NHL games last year in Vegas I believe he could be a valuable and cheap depth option. Pirri won’t be the game-changing forward people are craving. He probably isn’t going to turn into a 30-goal scorer and save the day. He is, however, going to play a solid 200-ft hockey game and could provide meaningful minutes at the bottom half of the roster. The question does become where he fits. Assuming the roster going into the season looks as follows:
You have 1 spot for a guy like Pirri and that’s only if Brian Boyle isn’t re-signed. If the Preds make a move and trade a defenseman for a forward the space on the roster becomes even smaller. So, where does he go? If you asked me, which nobody has but I’m telling you anyway, I’d take him over every player in Nashville’s current bottom 6 except for Sissons.
I think a third line of Pirri-Sissons-Grimaldi would be one of the better bottom-6 lines in the league. It’s fast, it’s responsible defensively, and it has just enough scoring touch to be dangerous. Oh, and it is incredibly, and I mean incredibly cheap. Going off Evolving Hockey's contract projections, that entire line would cost approximately 4.5 million dollars. Bump that up since I think Sissons will get more than their projection of 2.6 and you’re at approximately 5 million. Not bad for a team inching into the upper limits of the cap.
At the end of the day, this part of the article won’t be a hit. In fact, you probably skipped it by now, but that doesn’t make this any less of an intriguing addition to a roster that could use some overhaul in the bottom 6. Pirri provides some of the speed and possible scoring touch in a value play similar to Grimaldi.
Boyd: I will give Pirri this… he shoots the puck and scores goals. The Predators could certainly use more of that. I agree with you that he’s not a game-changer, but certainly Pirri feels like the type of player that could do more with an expanded opportunity. While I admit I’m spending more time looking at the seismic maneuvers, I like what Pirri would bring to the Preds if the prices for the big name UFA’s or trade targets are just too rich. Would it even take more than $1.5M on a one year, one way deal? Poile has seen some good success on the low-cost, low-risk deals, so why not take a shot and see if he clicks with the team.
Option 7: Sign UFA Joonas Donskoi
Donskoi(14G, 23A, 37P, 54.46CF%, 46.21xGF%, 56.05HDCF%)
Paul: Unlike Brandon Pirri, you’ve probably heard of this guy. Just like Brandon Pirri, he’s going to be an under-the-radar signing who can play 200-ft hockey and help reshape a bottom 6 that in my opinion needs it. A perennial 30-40 point player, he, again, isn’t blowing anyone away, but just like before I’d take him over everyone but Sissons. In fact, give me both Pirri and Donskoi and I think you’d have a roster that without a single trade or big name signing wins the west.
Not only does this improve your roster, but it also allows you to trade Bonino, which should be done as soon as possible.
However, even without both guys I think Donskoi adds an element to the bottom 6 they sorely need, which is a transition game. For a guy who only scores 30-40 points a year Joonas Donskoi transitions the puck out of his zone and into the opponent at an elite rate. In fact, here’s the players who have a worse possession exit and entry rate than Donskoi: Forsberg, Johansen, Arvidsson (just barely and probably close enough to be negligible), Turris, Granlund.... you get the point. He’s good at it and, based on the contract projections, only coming in at about 2.8-3 million.
Final thoughts: cheap, 200-ft player, and in my opinion an improvement over the rest of the roster. Those are the types of moves that can set us apart. When everyone else is overlooking value, go get it.
Boyd: To me, Donskoi looks like a prime candidate for a Viktor Stalberg-esque overpay. That’s not to say that he is the same player as Stalberg; clearly Donskoi is a better player. He skates and carries the puck well and can actually finish around the net (an immediate differentiator from Stalberg).
Where I’m coming from is the combination of middle/bottom 6 minutes, solid production, and relative youth that makes GMs with money burning a hole in their pocket who can’t help themselves overpay for potential. I think Donskoi would be an excellent addition to the Preds roster as a better version of Jarnkrok: a flex forward who can play up and down the lineup with contributions on special teams. What the Preds can’t afford to do is overpay for that player.
I’d be willing to go 3 (maybe 4) years at $3.5M but I have a sneaking suspicion that some GM ponies up 4 years and over $4M. Once it gets above the $4M range the Preds just can’t be in that running for someone who will play bottom-6 minutes.
Option 8: A trade with Vegas
Paul: I headline this particular section like that because Vegas actually has several forwards who I find interesting. William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault will be the most popular names; however, I’m not 100% sure they are at the top of my list. Vegas heads into this offseason with practically no cap space. That obviously makes signing a guy like William Karlsson difficult, which of course opens the door to the idea he may be traded. With 24 goals and 56 points--this following his 43 goal breakout season--Karlsson would be the perfect fit for the Preds. However, the likelihood that Vegas will be moving their star center is slim to none.
Instead, I’d like to see the Predators chase a name like Alex Tuch, Erik Haula, Reilly Smith, or perhaps the highly-touted Russian Nikita Gusev. Any 1 of these 4 names would be fantastic, however, I believe that under the right circumstances, the Predators should pursue Tuch and Haula.
Alex Tuch, similar to the other names mentioned, provides something valuable outside of pure production: cap stability. At 23 years old and signed for only 4.75 million he has the type contract and player the Predators should be chasing. In fact, much of his game and how he can transition the puck through the neutral zone will remind Predators fans of one Kevin Fiala, except this time in the 6’4" frame of a bona fide power forward. That of course mean he will come at a price.
In the immediate, Vegas needs to clear cap space. However, they are absolutely still a contender and that of course brings us to our dear captain Roman Josi. The left side of Vegas’s defense consists of Shea Theodore, Jon Merrill and Brayden McNabb. None of these guys are necessarily bad players but they aren’t Josi. In a one-for-one move, however, Josi for Tuch doesn’t make much sense for Vegas. They don’t clear much cap space and lose a 23-year-old locked in on a good deal.
Insert Erik Haula. Coming off a devastating injury and only 1 year left on his deal, it could help provide finishing touches to both teams roster. Haula is a name many people won’t be familiar with, but 2 years ago he put up a 29-goal, 55-point season, and last year had 7 points in 15 games. Acquiring these 2 players together would give Nashville one of the deeper forward groups in the league.
Is it likely? Probably not. Tuch and Haula are valuable players within Vegas’s organization; however, the salary cap and the opportunity to dump a little over 3 million in cap space and bring back a top tier D-man may be too much to refuse. I would expect Nashville to have to add in the form of picks and or prospects in order to bring both players back to Nashville.
However, that isn’t the only option here. Another would be to treat Erik Haula as a rental and simply pay the typical rental price of picks and prospects. This works for Vegas by letting them offload a little money without losing any of the more well-known names. For Nashville, it gives them a considerable upgrade to their third center and would even allow them to move on from Nick Bonino’s inflated contract.
Boyd: Vegas is a very intriguing trade partner given the range of options that could be available. The trick with Vegas is that they can’t really take any money back. So for example, trading Ellis for Marchessault wouldn’t work because that would be a net negative in cap hit for Vegas.
In that sense, Paul, I like your concept of acquiring multiple Vegas pieces. Personally I might go for the bigger splash and get after Marchessault and Haula, but it's also partial to me not believing Vegas will trade Tuch so soon after a breakout season and the subsequent new contract with pretty big money. Getting back to the idea, could Ellis, a 2020 2nd and Jarnkrok get it done? The Preds would still need to move out some salary to cover the incoming players and retain some level of flexibility. Haula coming in would make Bonino expendable, so moving him out would clear the necessary additional dollars. Like some of the others, this would be a difficult trade to pull off, but it might just provide the needed spark to the forward corps.
What do we want to see and will it actually happen?
Boyd: The obvious answer is Duchene with possibly some salary moving out, and all insider reports are doing very little to dispute that. I like Duchene and think he would certainly be a talent upgrade to the roster. Even with Duchene I’d still like to see the 2RW position currently held by Craig Smith upgraded to someone with a higher ceiling.
So going full YOLO Poile and combining a couple concepts the Preds could sign Duchene and also make the Josi-Drouin trade. Assuming Duchene is around $8M, the Preds would have to move out some additional salaries (Bonino, Jarnkrok) but the resulting forward corps would have burners and finishers on every line. It would end up something like this:
Granted these moves would be super aggressive, but they would reshape the forward corps into a faster, more complete unit with two high-end lines and scoring across all four lines. The Preds also avoid Josi’s extension that the full length will be in Josi’s thirties. The combination of high AAV, term, and Josi’s concussion history just makes me nervous about that contract becoming an anchor in a few years.
From a less aggressive perspective, the more I think about it I do like the idea of Brandon Pirri as a depth scorer, although I think I’d only like it if there are corresponding moves to open roster spots for some of the younger forwards coming up in the system.
So there it is from my perspective. An aggressive approach that puts a ton of speed and skill in the forward corps but requires pulling the trigger on an expensive--and likely trade protected--free agent center and also what would be a very controversial trade. If that’s too much there are a couple simpler moves (Eberle, Pirri) that would add skill to the lineup without totally breaking the bank.
As David Poile said, changes are coming. Lets hope they’re the right ones.
Paul: My safe prediction for the offseason is Nashville moves Turris and signs Duchene and that is that. We all are happy for the summer, go into the season, and are a bit better for it. At least in the immediate.
My less safe prediction is that Nashville acquires Duchene and then flips either Josi or Subban for Phil Kessel. I’m not a particular fan of Kessel and I think Nashville loses a Subban for Kessel 1 for 1, but the results speak for itself. Even if he is only ⅔ the player here away from Malkin, you’re still talking about a nearly 60-point winger. His shot is an upgrade on the powerplay, and if it is Subban going the other way Nashville would clear a little over 2 million in cap space. I wouldn’t love the move but I wouldn't hate it either.
As much as I love the depth options of Donskoi and Pirri if I had it my way--I don’t--Nashville would have a rather busy offseason. Starting with our own, Poile brings back Sissons, Boyle, and Grimaldi. Turris is traded to clear room for Duchene and Bonino is traded to clear room for Jordan Eberle. It could look something like this:
The Preds roll into the season with a top 6 that is going to put up some points, a third line that is going to skate you into the ice, and 3 players who are paid to do stuff. Oh, and the entire top 4 intact. Assuming 8.3 million for Duchene and 6.1 million for Eberle, Nashville would come in right at 82.5 million total. If you needed more space you probably don’t have to pay Jarnkrok 2 million to play 4C and could move him rather easily for a depth forward and cap.
Also, something I find very intriguing about this is that because Nashville is moving out Bonino and Turris for UFA space we hypothetically could pick up several picks. Those could easily be kept to rebuild the pipeline or moved at the trade deadline to upgrade Grimaldi, SIssons, or Smith.
All in all, I really like this roster. Will it happen? I doubt it. Would it be incredibly cool to see 2 marquee free agents sign in Nashville then troll Toronto as their homegrown star holds them hostage? Absolutely!!
Find us on Twitter: Boyd (@Boyd_1212) and Paul (@SP_Peterson6)
Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!
All statistics and visualizations courtesy of NHL.com, capfriendly.com, naturalstattrick.com, @EvolvingWild, @CJTDevil, IcyData.Hockey, hockeyviz.com and Corsica.hockey.