Could a Trade Be Imminent?
Who could be traded? Could it happen soon?
The Nashville Predators’ season has not gone as intended. Aside from some easy-squeezy games against the San Jose Sharks, Nashville has not looked like a playoff team with veteran players eager to chase a Cup. We’re getting fairly close to December, and the typical rule-of-thumb is that if a NHL team is not in playoff contention at American Thanksgiving, they have a very low likelihood of going on a heater and ending up in the playoffs. Obviously, there are always exceptions to this—the 2019 Blues went on a massive heater after New Year’s and got to hoist the Cup. In other cases, powerhouse teams can suddenly find themselves struggling after injuries and slip down the rankings.
Right now, the Predators make me shrug. I don’t know what this team is. Before the season, we were confident in Nino Neiderreiter and Ryan McDonagh as new assets for a seasoned squad. In the second week of November, however, we’re all frustrated at the on-ice product and somewhat concerned about Juuse Saros.
For what it’s worth, I believe that Nashville is a stronger team than is reflected by their play in the first month of the season. They’re slow and sluggish right now, and to me, that feels like a systemic concern. However, that’s not what I want to discuss. I want to explore what many on social media seem to think is inevitable... a trade.
To start off this conversation, we have to remind ourselves who cannot be traded. Without the player waiving the clause, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and Ryan McDonagh all have NMC or NTCs.
However, there’s still a good chunk of the team available for a trade. The players we often see discussed are Dante Fabbro, Eeli Tolvanen, or the multitude of fourth-line grinders like Cole Smith, Michael McCarron, or Mark Jankowski. While Tolvanen might fetch some interest, I doubt we would be blessed enough to see Smith or McCarron traded to a needy team.
Another favorite discussion I have in the spring is the “old guy without a Cup” trade scenario. The two oldest players are Mark Boroweicki (currently on injured reserve) and Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh already has two Cups. Who’s next? Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm are the next-oldest players, followed by Matt Duchene.
Ekholm was the subject of a lot of trade discussion last winter. He’s a talented defender who has had a very rough beginning to 2022-2023. He started the season trying to play on the right with Ryan McDonagh (Ekholm is a left-hand shot), and it took a little over ten games to realize that combination was not working. Ekholm could bring a team veteran blueline experience at a very nice price tag. What about Mikael Granlund? Does he interest any teams looking for a versatile winger/center with playoff experience?
There are some young, exciting players that other GM’s might be interested in—I’m thinking about Tanner Jeannot, Yakov Trenin, or even Alexandre Carrier. Would David Poile listen to offers for these players? Carrier would round out a struggling defense. Trenin and Jeannot are big bodies who are unafraid to drive to the net and mix it up along the boards, and they both can score in bunches. Jeannot, a fan favorite, and Trenin could certainly be targets for a team like Dallas, Boston, or Vegas. These young players haven’t yet peaked and could put a Cup contender over the top.
Are there “untouchables” on this Predators squad? I’d say the untouchables are Roman Josi, Juuse Saros, and Filip Forsberg. However, there’s the other kind of untouchable—the players that David Poile couldn’t even give away due to huge contracts. Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene had great seasons in 2021-2022...but counting on them to repeat those seasons might be a mistake. Neither have trade protection, but who wants an aging center who makes $8 million a season? I’m sure there’d be offers, but the returns could be poor. If Poile has to start looking at trades, I’d at least be hoping for higher-round picks in return.
Sound off below, Preds fans. Who should Poile trade, and what should he seek in return? I’m certainly not interested in taking on other bad contracts. I’m hoping for picks and quality prospects in return for whatever beloved Pred ends up on a rival team.