Now more than ever, it seems changes may be coming to the Nashville Predators as soon as the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
Both Elliotte Friedman and Pierre LeBrun have reported David Poile would be “open for business” if the Predators couldn’t turn things around after the All-Star break. Given that the Preds have gone 1-3 since then, it seems that a grim dose of reality could be around the corner.
The Preds’ difficult roster situation may be difficult for some teams to navigate at the deadline, and because of that, we may see more action from Poile (assuming he’s still around) in the offseason. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be throwing some names around when teams come calling.
With that in mind, I’ve organized all of the current Nashville Predators into trade tiers based on how likely each would be traded at the upcoming deadline.
There are four tiers here:
- The players who won’t be traded because the Preds don’t want to trade them.
- The players who aren’t untouchable, but probably won’t be traded due to limited buying/selling interest.
- The players who could be available, but only for the right price.
- The players who seem most likely to be shopped at the deadline.
The “Untouchables” Tier
Players the Nashville Predators likely have zero interest in moving or see as key building blocks in a potential rebuild.
Forsberg is one year into his 8-year deal signed with the understanding #9 is going to be a centerpiece in whatever the next iteration of the Nashville Predators will be. Even if the Preds wanted to move Forsberg, he has a full no-move clause until 2028 and likely wouldn’t want to waive it for a few seasons.
In theory, the Preds could use Glass as a chip in a bigger trade, but given where the Preds are right now, that seems unlikely. The Preds appear to be all-in on developing Glass into a top six center, and the 23-year-old has taken a big step forward in that department. He’s currently the Preds’ number one center, and depending on some other trade developments, he could hold onto that role for the next few years.
He’s the captain. He may retire as the best player in franchise history. Apart from Juuse Saros, he’s one of the few reasons the Preds haven’t already hit rock bottom. Roman Josi is not leaving unless he wants to leave.
Like Glass, it’s unlikely the Preds will trade Pärssinen unless there’s a once-in-a-lifetime trade opportunity. The 22-year-old looks on track to be one of Nashville’s best late-round draft gems in years. And even in a rebuild, Pärssinen is the right age to still be in his prime whenever the Preds contend again.
There have been plenty of pieces out there suggesting the Preds should trade Saros, but that’s not a route they seem destined to go down, at least not right now. Saros, whether some of the national outlets believe it or not, is an elite goaltender in the NHL, and those are rare to find. The Preds will likely keep him in the fold until it appears a certain Russian goaltending prospect can supplant him.
Say what you will about the Preds’ somewhat surprising decision to start Tomasino in the AHL this year. It may have been a case of the braintrust being a little over-cautious with his development, but it was NOT a reflection of how much the front office values Tomasino as a prospect. He’s still a central part of the Preds’ long-term plans and likely won’t be involved in any trade at the moment.
The “Not Untouchable, But Probably Won’t Be Traded” Tier
These are players that the Preds either aren’t actively planning to move, but would if the right situation emerged... OR players the Preds wouldn’t necessarily mind trading, but would be unlikely to find a deal for them at the deadline.
Boro’s still recovering from the brutal injury he suffered at the start of the season. He’s likely not going to be involved in any trade talks.
There’s a case to be made that if the Preds really want a bottomed-out-type rebuild, Carrier is a guy they SHOULD be actively shopping. There are plenty of contenders who would pay a pretty penny for a 26-year-old top-four-quality right-handed blueliner. However, whispers around Bridgestone say Poile intends to keep the pending RFA in the fold. He’s owed a massive raise this offseason, but the Preds appear to be willing to pay.
Chances are a decent amount of you reading this would probably prefer that Poile actively shops the last three years of Duchene’s contract. But there are two things in play here. One is that the Preds are still getting an okay amount of scoring production from Duchene. The other is that Duchene’s contract is probably the more difficult of the two $8M AAV deals for Poile to move (don’t worry, we’ll get to the other one).
There could be an AHL deal in the works, but that’s really the only way Gravel is going to make headlines on deadline day.
See Kevin Gravel.
Jankowski’s had an up-and-down tenure since being recalled from Milwaukee this year, including some long stints as a healthy scratch. He’s unlikely to draw much interest, but given he does have a wealth of NHL experience as a fourth-liner/extra forward, it’s not totally out of the question.
The Predators probably overspent to get Lauzon at last season’s deadline, and they probably overspent to re-sign him. That’s what likely will keep Lauzon off teams’ radars, but given that he’s admirably played the role the Preds have asked him to play, that’s fine.
McKeown is in the same class as Gravel and Gross. He won’t be a target unless there’s an AHL deal in the works.
Novak’s big improvement from last season has been a fun storyline for Preds fans this season. He also just signed a one-year extension, so don’t expect the Preds to shop him.
That noise you heard was the sound of dozens of Preds fans running to the comments section to make a “trade Cole Smith for a bag of pucks and a used pair of shin pads lololol” joke. Whatever you think of Smith as a player, however, he’s not likely to get traded, and he should still contend for a bottom-six winger role next season.
The “Available for the Right Price” Tier
These are either players who the Predators aren’t necessarily putting on the block, but would listen to offers... or players that the Predators may be looking/open to trading down the road, but may need to wait until at least the offseason to find the right partner.
Even if he never scores 24 goals again, Jeannot still has the skillset to be a valuable bottom-six winger for the Preds. The only hitch here could be his upcoming contract. Jeannot is a restricted free agent and will be owed a raise from the $800K he’s made the past two years. How much of a raise exactly? That answer could sway the Preds’ plans.
Johansen is on this list purely based on the fact his contract is easier to move than Duchene’s. He has two more years left on his $8M AAV deal and is still just 30 years old (two years younger than Duchene.) If the Preds do decide to move Joey, it’s more likely to happen in the summer when general managers can work more magic to make that contract work. Plus, it’s not out of the question Poile can still make a “hockey deal” involving Johansen.
This is an intriguing one. Statistically speaking, Lankinen may be one of the — if not THE — best backup goaltenders in the NHL this season, and his play behind Saros has been a welcome sight after last year’s debacle with backups. But Lankinen is also due to become a free agent, and it’s not out of the question he’d want a chance at a regular starting job. Given the amount of teams on the playoff bubble looking for reliable goaltending, could Poile entice someone to pay big?
Just eight months after arriving in Nashville, McDonagh’s name has been mentioned prominently in trade rumors yet again. There’s probably a little bit of smoke to those. Keep in mind, however, McDonagh has a no-trade clause; he just waived it to bring his family to Middle Tennessee. Unless there’s some sort of drama behind-the-scenes (which there’s no indication there is), it’s hard to envision him wanting to pack up the troops again to move in the middle of the season. If the Preds enter rebuilding mode, McDonagh could change his mind down the road, but any move at the deadline would be a bit of a surprise.
A few writers have suggested Niederreiter — who signed a two-year, $4M AAV deal this past summer — could be actively shopped at the deadline. Niederreiter still has a full year left on his contract, which means the Preds have the luxury of being picky. Unless someone blows Poile away with a massive deal or throws a first-round pick around, it’s likely Niederreiter will stick around until next year’s deadline.
There’s been absolutely nothing to suggest to the Preds are shopping Sissons or that any team would even be interested. But if the goal is lighten the salary load, the “Colt” in the Herd Line may be a contract you’d want to try and move. Sissons has three more years remaining on his seven-year, $2.85M AAV deal, which isn’t bad at all, especially considering he’s a solid fourth-line center. It wouldn’t be surprising if Sissons’s name is thrown around in trade talks, but nothing seems imminent.
In terms of a pure trade chip, Trenin could be an intriguing option for other teams. He’s big, has good two-way instincts, and — as we saw last season — has a decent amount of offensive pop. He also has a year left on a relatively cheap $1.7M AAV deal, which could interest contenders with some room to be patient. It’s also the same reason the Preds wouldn’t mind hanging onto him for a bit, but if an extension doesn’t make sense, we could see the Preds shop Trenin more aggressively at next season’s deadline.
The “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” Tier
These are the players whose names are the most mentioned in current trade rumors and seem the most likely to get moved during the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
I mean... there’s got to be something behind the fact Ekholm’s the first player people around the league talk about when they mention Nashville’s deadline plans, right? Poile has shied away from trading his big stars at the deadline in years past, instead opting to wait until the offseason instead. But the stars may be aligned for an Ekholm move. Analytics-wise, he’s one of the best defensive blueliners in the league this year, and there are plenty of “win now” teams in desperate need of top-end defensive help. The X-factor will be Ekholm’s remaining contract: will there be a contender at the deadline able to absorb his remaining three years at $6.25M per? Or will teams offer a good enough sweetener to convince Poile to retain salary or take on a big contract in return to make the money work? If not, the Preds may be wise to wait until the summer when more teams would be interested.
At this point, it would be a mild shock if Fabbro was still a Nashville Predator on March 4th. He’s reportedly been on the trade block since last summer, the Preds likely have little interest in tendering him a qualifying offer when he becomes an RFA this summer, and based on his declining ice time, he’s seemingly fallen out of favor with John Hynes’s coaching staff. All of that has probably dampened Fabbro’s trade value. There will still be plenty of teams interested in a right-handed depth defenseman, especially one who’s only 24 years old and still has room to grow. It’s highly likely a deal gets done at the deadline, but it would be naive to think the Preds would get much more than a mid-round draft pick or a fringe prospect in return.
Granlund’s name has been brought up in trade chatter more in recent days now that Bo Horvat and Vladimir Tarasenko are off the market, and the Predators appear willing to listen to offers. The Preds have a number of players in the system, like Glass and Tomasino, that play with a similar style, but are younger and (for now) cheaper, making Granlund expendable. There are plenty of contenders who would be interested in a versatile middle-six forward like Granlund. He has two years remaining on his contract, but his $5M AAV is reasonable enough that a fair number of teams could make it work.
Who do you think is the most-likely Predator to get moved at the trade deadline?