As the Nashville Predators have declined from Stanley Cup Final glory, we’ve seen general manager David Poile make mind-boggling moves a'plenty and take the brunt of the fan backlash. It has been a rough go - from accusatory questions in press conferences to plenty of #FirePoile tweets for the 72-year-old executive, there's plenty of criticism aimed at the GM.
In sports, coaches and executives “get hired to get fired.” Very rarely do teams reach the promised land without having some turmoil in their staff. The Predators fired the head coach that brought them to the Cup Final. But after not advancing past the second round outside of the one miracle run, there has been no change in the general manager position. And the majority of people are not happy with that - and for good reason.
Very rarely are team executives in the same position for 24 years. For those that are, one look at their trophy case is all that needs to be said. But as much good as Poile has done for the Predators franchise—bringing them out of the dirt and building a franchise that erases the stigma that hockey can’t survive in the south—the sands of his general manager career have almost run out. However, while he is still sitting in the seat, every fan should root for him to make the best moves possible for the franchise, as it doesn’t appear his managing career will end with a Donald Trump-esque, “you’re fired.”
The good news is, over the 2022 offseason, he has done that. Despite the team getting swept for the first time in franchise history, thanks to the Colorado Avalanche, Poile has actively improved the roster and continued to draft well.
Trading away Mathieu Olivier to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 4th round pick they received from the Toronto Maple Leafs was the first domino to fall for the Predators. Not bad value for a player who wouldn’t find a consistent spot after Tanner Jeannot won over his position on the Herd Line. Then, only a few days later, Poile made the blockbuster trade for Ryan McDonagh from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only did he bring in a defender with Stanley Cup experience, but he did it for the meager price of Philippe Myers and Grant Mismash. Of course, this trade required taking on the 33-year-old’s almost $7 million contract, which could end up biting them. However, considering the position -management has taken on the competitiveness of the roster, it appears that that bridge will be crossed when we get there.
After that, Poile moved Luke Kunin out west to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for John Leonard. From the first to the fourth line, the winger did not have a good season, and considering the amount of money he was owed, the only right move was to let him go. If the Predators did re-sign him, I don’t think I would consider the offseason a failure, but there would certainly be a stain.
As for what he did outside of the trade market, his signings were good for the most part. Excluding the odd 4-year extension given to Jeremy Lauzon, I, like many others, was content with the contracts given to Filip Forsberg, Nino Niederreiter, and Yakov Trenin, among other players.
Finally, there’s the draft. Poile is involved in this part, but he’s not the one providing the vital information on who to pick and what options might be available. Nonetheless, the Predators had another excellent draft under his watch, with arguably the steal of the first round in Finnish sharpshooter Joakim Kemell, who I wrote about here.
The 2022 offseason was something to be proud of if you’re in the general manager seat right now. Needs were addressed, players were re-signed to fair contracts, and the draft went well by most, if not all, accounts. And despite one offseason not being able to turn the majority opinion around, fans should give him props for setting roster goals, accomplishing them, and not going too far off the deep end. Good on you, Mr. Poile.