The Nashville Predators will be one of the more interesting teams to follow for the remainder of the year; that much is certain. With the trade deadline looming, the team is in a dogfight with the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Preds have the ability to be wholesale sellers come tomorrow, but they could also end up buying or doing a bit of both. Hell, it’s highly plausible that David Poile could stand pat and drive us all up the wall.
With all of that said, I’d like to make some predictions with the standard cause-effect format that’s so often taught in English classes. I’ll be listing a few of them below. Hope you all enjoy.
If: The Nashville Predators make the postseason
Then: Juuse Saros will be the Vezina favorite
This one is a bit of a stretch, but it’s a fair qualifier. Nashville making the playoffs likely means that Saros sustained his borderline unfair performance in goal, but more importantly it means that he’ll be squarely in the league spotlight. For some reason, voters find it difficult to stomach giving the Vezina out to the best goaltender, instead factoring team success heavily into it (much like the Cy Young in the MLB was until recently). Saros making the playoffs will check that box, and if this scenario does present itself I wouldn’t be shocked to see him win the award. His play lately has certainly warranted consideration.
If: David Poile trades one of Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis
Then: David Poile will either resign or be promoted to team president at the season’s conclusion
Poile selling will signal that he legitimately believes the Cup contending window for this team has ended. If that’s the case, the 71-year-old GM has little reason to stick around. Poile has poured his heart and soul into this franchise, but I doubt he’ll be willing to slog through a long, hard reconstruction of this team. With his son Brian waiting in the wings to take the mantle of the team’s architect, it wouldn’t be shocking to see The Founding Father take his leave.
If: The Predators buy at the deadline
Then: David Poile acquires Taylor Hall
Now we’re starting to get a bit spicier. The Predators have little incentive to buy at the deadline, but it wouldn’t exactly shock anyone if David Poile pushes his chips to the center one last time. After they were reportedly in heavy pursuit of Taylor Hall in the offseason, his is a name that could make some amount of sense to bring in as a rental. Buffalo is getting desperate to offload the highly paid winger, and Nashville needs more offensive punch. While Hall hasn’t had ideal production for a man of his salary (17 points in 37 games), his analytical profile and the laments of Sabres fans suggest that he’s been a victim of an awful team and pitiful luck. If the Preds are buying, they’re going big. While I may not like it, this makes sense.
If: The Predators trade Mikael Granlund at the deadline
Then: Nashville misses the playoffs
Oh baby, this is a regular dynamite take. Lemme tell you why it makes sense. Granlund is one of the few stabilizing forces left on a team that’s already been depleted to the brink of annihilation. The Finnish forward is a steadying presence in the top six, provides crucial depth, and can play either center or winger when needed. His skill on the power play has also been useful, and the defensive play he provides is significantly superior to any of the options that might replace him post-trade (no, Erik Haula is not going to fill that gap). The Predators are teetering on collapse with the latest slew of maladies, and the additional strain that trading Granlund would cause could end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
If: The Predators sell at the deadline
Then: Viktor Arvidsson is wearing another uniform next year
Let’s end on this one. Arvidsson is a guy that other teams clearly covet. While his goal-scoring production has declined, the volume shooting prowess is still there. No. 33 has been a sneaky good playmaker over the past few months, and while I doubt he’ll ever surge back to being a 30+ goal scorer, he’s easily a quality middle-six player who can put up second line numbers for the remainder of his contract. For a guy on a palatable contract, that’s an ideal profile. Teams like Tampa, Colorado, Florida and Carolina are looking to load up before the postseason. Arvidsson makes a lot of sense as a target because of his composition.