As it does every year, the trade deadline approaches. It may even catch some unsuspecting fans off guard. The season is moving rapidly, and as the games pass, some players make their cases to stay on their teams, while others provide reasons to be moved for other players and draft capital.
The trade deadline’s exact date is March 21st, but that won’t prohibit general managers from taking phone calls and trading players earlier. There are plenty of players available on every team in every conference, and the Nashville Predators could benefit from making a deal.
There are plenty of people who would rather see the Predators stay pat at the deadline, and that point of view is entirely valid. The team thrives on chemistry, and bringing in someone new would mean changing up lines to compensate. Of course, depending on who is brought in, it might be in the best interest to split up a line and take someone currently in the lineup out. However, why fix something that isn’t broken?
Even if you’re of the standpoint that the Predators shouldn’t acquire someone at the deadline, it’s always important to look at players who could be of use in the future while assessing what the team needs to improve. With that in mind, let’s look at some possible assets Poile could look for when the time comes.
Considering where the Predators are, it’s hard to choose players that could legitimately be of interest to Poile and the front office. However, one of them could be Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames. He’s 24 years old and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season.
The Flames are headed into a tight cap situation at the end of the season. With Tkachuk’s deal expiring and Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane (among other players) needing new ones, there could be some problems trying to find cap room to squeeze both of them in. It can be done, but if they decide that it’s unlikely a deal can be made with the cap room they have, or Tkachuk isn’t satisfied with what he’s being offered, there may be the possibility of a trade.
Per Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, Tkachuk has expressed interest in Nashville among other markets like St. Louis, Vegas, New York (Rangers), and Dallas.
The contract extension would be a very hefty price, which is why I believe that this is an extreme long shot. Unless the Predators were certain that Filip Forsberg was leaving in the offseason, their shot at acquiring and re-signing Tkachuk is very low. They still have that Forsberg extension looming, and it’s going to be a pretty price just like Tkachuk’s. However, there is a safety net with Tkachuk because, as a RFA, he has to sign with the team who holds his rights. Unlike Gaudreau—another potential—he wouldn’t have the option to leave in the offseason, because the Predators would control his rights.
Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux has been the talk of the town on the trade market. There have been plenty of rumors floating around about his potential departure from Broad Street to the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, or possibly the St. Louis Blues. The Predators would be mistaken to not at least inquire about the veteran forward.
As probably one of the most underrated players of the 2010s, Giroux has scored 895 points in 988 career games, and he has 37 points in 45 games in the 2021-22 season. He is tied with Cam Atkinson for first on the team in three fewer games, and he’s nine points ahead of the third-highest scorer on the team, Travis Konecny.
Giroux would bring a hefty cap hit at $8.275 million, but since his contract is up at the end of the season, he would just be a rental unless there were other plans in place for him to re-sign with the Predators. Due to his status as a rental, it would most likely cost the Predators less than if he had term on his deal, but they would still have to pay a hefty price. Adding Giroux’s leadership, experience, and top-end skills would be extremely helpful for a playoff run. He would most likely have to move to the wing because of how Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen are playing this season, but there could certainly be arrangements made for a player of his caliber.
J.T Miller’s name has been thrown around during trade deadline season, and he would be a valuable player to any team that acquires him. In 2021-22, Miller is scoring at over a point per game with 48 points in 47 games, and during his time with the Canucks, he has 166 points in 169 games.
Miller still has another year left on his contract after 2021-22, so the term is something that teams will have to consider when proposing packages to the Canucks’ front office. It is reported that the Canucks are looking for something similar to what went down between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames for Tyler Toffoli. The package was Tyler PItlick, Emil Heineman, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick. So the asking price would be a lower roster player, a prospect, and a first-round and mid-round pick.
The real question is whether or not the Predators would be willing to meet that asking price. The first-round pick is undoubtedly something that I would be hesitant to give up as David Poile, especially considering the amount of talent in the upcoming draft and the Predators’ prospect pool continually moving up the NHL ranks.
Miller can add another scoring touch to the top six. He has an excellent shot, and it would also add another weapon on the second power play unit. There’s plenty to like about Miller’s game, and inquiring about him or trying to snag him at the right price could be an interesting add for a playoff run.
The Predators are currently a bubble playoff team at this point in the season. They sit in the first wild card spot after dropping three games in a row to the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, and Washington Capitals. They’re going to need to get back on track, and adding someone through a trade might be the way to do it. Of course, when it comes to trades, no results are ever set in stone. If the Predators were to add one of these three players (or someone else who wasn’t analyzed in this article, like Dylan Strome, Tomas Hertl, John Klingberg, or Pavel Zacha), they would get a boost in firepower, and one that might be needed considering the teams they would be matched up against in the postseason.
Even if you’re content on the Predators not buying, which is a sentiment shared by many in the fanbase, there’s no denying that the talk around the town come the trade deadline will be sure to spark some debate. As the date approaches, Poile’s intentions will hopefully become more transparent, and fans will look forward to whichever direction the team chooses to go.