Three Trade Deadline Options the Predators Should Explore
Seller? Buyer? Do nothing?
In the spirit of Sportsnet’s recent pieces about trade deadline options for each Canadian NHL club, I’m throwing together three options for Nashville as February 24th creeps closer.
None of these scenarios are genius, fresh, or otherwise mind-blowing. Some of these options have been suggested elsewhere, as Nashville’s subpar play has been the subject of much scrutiny. Conversation will continue about how the Predators plan to proceed with their underwhelming season.
Of course, these trade options most certainly depend on where the Predators sit in the conference standings. There might be no need to buy a defender if a wild-card spot is out of reach.
If David Poile makes a move (regardless of where Nashville stands in the West), it should result in solid prospects or picks. Nashville’s prospects rank #22 out of 31 NHL clubs per The Athletic, so restocking the cupboard is the most prudent option if 2019-2020 is a bust.
Trade an Expiring Contract
Nashville has two “big-name” players on expiring contracts: Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith . Smith has been a Predator his entire professional career, but could he be shipped elsewhere? It’s not a secret that Granlund hasn’t been a great fit in Nashville, although the potential is still there for the 27-year-old.
If the Predators are in wild-card contention at the trade deadline, it makes sense to keep both Granlund and Smith. However, a decision over the summer will likely be at the top of David Poile’s to-do list this summer. Smith is 30. What kind of deal does Smith seek and at what price?
If Nashville is out of the playoff race in a month, flip Granlund for prospects or picks to a contending team like the Islanders or the Canucks. I doubt David Poile would want to let a player like Granlund walk away over the summer for nothing.
Acquire a Depth Defender
Dante Fabbro hasn’t been terrible when paired with Mattias Ekholm. However, bumping Fabbro down to the third pair alongside UFA Dan Hamhuis and bringing in a depth defender might benefit Fabbro as the season goes on. Further, depending on Ryan Ellis’s status, a depth d-man could be quite beneficial. Neither Jarred Tinordi or Alexandre Carrier would be able to help the Predators in a postseason run.
Further, I’m not hopeful that Yannick Weber or Matt Irwin fill any sort of need for Nashville, even though they were the third pair option during the 2017 Cup run. They’re both UFAs this summer and honestly, neither needs to be re-signed by the Predators.
Would New Jersey be interested in parting with Sami Vatanen? Vatanen is somewhat pricey, however. Could Zach Bogosian be pried out of Buffalo? Is Brenden Dillon a possibility? Our cupboards aren’t exactly chock full of prospects, but a second- or third-round pick or two might be enough to nab a needed blueliner.
Erik Gustafsson is an interesting name. The Blackhawk is 27 years old and a pending UFA. His numbers aren’t incredible, but they don’t need to be. Could he suit up alongside Ekholm? Marco Scandella is another name to watch.
Figure out Kyle Turris’s Contract
Would a team like Buffalo be interested in Kyle Turris? They have a glut of defenders that Nashville could reasonably use on the second or third pair. The real question (covered extensively) is which team would be willing to take on Turris’s contract at full price. $6 million annually until 2024 is enough to send any potential suitor running for the hills.
Edmonton is a team that could use a 3C. Although Turris was brought to Nashville to be a 2C, he’s been bumped all the way down to the fourth line with a revolving cast of linemates. That’s less than ideal for a center who is just three seasons removed from an explosive playoff run in Ottawa. The Oilers could offer a combination of picks and prospects in return.
What if Nashville does nothing with Turris and trades Nick Bonino to Edmonton instead? Bonino has had an awesome season and Turris struggled under Peter Laviolette and hasn’t fared much better under John Hynes. Regardless of what happens with Turris or Bonino, look for Nashville’s bottom-six to look a little different in the coming season.
It’s trade season, y'all. Bring on the discussion and commentary.
Author’s note: if anyone even suggests trading Juuse Saros, I will find you and I will stage a riot outside your house.