After a strong training camp, Yakov Trenin’s physical and fast style of play ended up on the radar of then-head coach Peter Laviolette. With a strong start to his AHL season, Trenin earned his first NHL call up to the Predators in October. After a one-game stop in Nashville, he returned to Milwaukee until being brought back up by the Predators in early December. Trenin played 20 games between December 7, 2019 and the pause of the NHL season in March 2020. Let’s take a look at how he performed in his 21 NHL games.
Trenin’s size (6’2”, 201 lbs...but this may be the same math I do on my driver’s license) and the energy and speed with which he plays made him a fun player to watch in his 21 games. His net front presence resulted in two redirect goals—his first NHL goal on December 7, 2019, and his second against the L.A. Kings on January 4, 2020.
Trenin provided a needed body in the slot offensively and defensively on a team that caused me to yell “The slot is not lava!” more times than I care to remember this season. Trenin was not hesitant to be at front of the net in the offensive zone, and provided solid defense in that area as well.
While his net-front presence was a bonus for the Predators, Trenin still struggled with offense and defense from different real estate near the circles. Even with that, it’s difficult to say Trenin has a glaring downside. He is young and got his first experience this season with NHL-level play which is always an adjustment. It’s easy to argue his value when looking at his outstanding stats and all-star play in Milwaukee when combined with an opportunity for more ice time and development in the NHL.
Trenin’s energy and physicality made a great impression in training camp and ended up on display in a game against the Boston Bruins on January 7. Trenin will probably be best remembered this season for taking on Zdeno Chára and more than holding his own against the 6’9” defender.
GM David Poile has made no secret that with a pool of talent in Milwaukee combined with the salary cap, young players who are ready to compete at the NHL level will have ample opportunity to make the Nashville Predators roster in the coming season.
Trenin’s physicality, energy, and brief experience make him a valuable candidate for the Preds, but the unrestricted free agent has also made it clear that he isn’t looking for another two-way contract. His agent has been slightly less than coy about the possibility that Trenin may choose to play in the KHL next season.
Yakov Trenin met Roman Rotenberg, the chief executive of the Russian National Team. They visited the training facility of SKA Saint Petersburg. Roman expressed his interest in seeing Yakov playing in SKA and Team Russia for the upcoming season. #PredsNHL pic.twitter.com/T63appkr6y— Shumi Babaev agency (@BabayevShumi) August 25, 2020
Whether Trenin will sign with the KHL or leverage that interest with the Predators for a one-way contract remains to be seen. The Predators would be wise to invest in Trenin, as his value for the team (especially considering his shorter stint in Smashville) appears obvious.
Overall Grade - B
It is difficult to grade a young player based on only 21 games, and it is even more challenging to mentally separate Trenin’s outstanding play in Milwaukee and the glimpses of potential from affecting the curve. For his first run at NHL play, Trenin did a solid job with the opportunity he was given. With a little more time and experience in the NHL, Trenin could develop into something very special if the Predators can sign him.