OTF Roundtable: Is Kyle Turris Doomed?

Doomed to leave Nashville, anyway. We don’t presume to weigh in on any more cosmic concerns.

It’s a tiny bit early for the November roundtable, but the question of Kyle Turris is on everyone’s minds. We turned to the staff for some discussion of what’s up with Turris and where we think he and the Predators are going.

Rachel: Thoughts about Turris: Sadness, anxiety, depression, hunger, tears, salt, frustration, irritability, and popcorn.

Bryan: During the offseason, everyone assumed that Turris or Bonino would be moved sometime soon—I even predicted that one would be traded by All-Star Weekend, and figured that Kyle Turris’ cap hit would be too much for teams to be willing to take on, so Bonino would be the move. There were even rumors about it, including several major media members reporting that the Predators had been shopping Kyle Turris during the summer, but couldn’t find takers.

Rumor or not, I think the environment was set. Turris was brought in to be the second-line center in a team devoid of them and the six-year extention he signed after getting traded was supposed to lock him as a top-6 contributor for years to come. After a disappointing season last year, Turris even mentioned at the World Championships that he was feeling good because he was able to “play his game” in the tournament. All of that, plus the major acquisition of Matt Duchene, meant that Turris likely was starting to feel unwelcome in Nashville.

He was moved all around the lineup, eventually settling in the bottom-6. While the reason for this was partially due to an abundance of depth in the top-6, Turris was frequently shifted around up and down the lineup, and despite not scoring goals, he was having a solid statistical season—no matter who he was with. But that never seemed to count for much.

We’re going to find out a lot in the next 24 hours, as Arvidsson’s injury is going to force Laviolette’s hand—with absolutely NO options on the active roster, Turris stands as the 12th forward. The team will call someone up, but whether or not that callup acts as backup or gets immediately inserted into the lineup is yet to be seen. If Turris is scratched again tomorrow night, I think it’s truly safe to say we may never see Turris play in a Predators uniform again—and that’s a mistake.

Nick: I’ve thought about this all week, and I STILL don’t understand. Sure, Turris hasn’t had the smoothest stint with the Predators. But this year, he’s proven he can contribute when paired with the right people. Burying him on the fourth line and/or keeping him a healthy scratch makes NO SENSE...from a gameplay standpoint, or from a business standpoint. I just don’t get it, and I’m not sure I ever will.

Ann: What in the ever loving flagnog is Lavy doing? Turris as a healthy scratch makes no sense to me and Lavy’s “lineup decision” explanation leaves way more questions than answers. Turris is not at the top of my list of players who might benefit from a “lineup decision” healthy-scratch game. The play of the team overall has taken a turn over this last month or so from how they started. We are back to the slot being lava, shots from the blue line, and few high-danger shots. Turris isn’t a logical scapegoat for the issues that have resulted in this slump. If we trade Turris there is a decent chance I will riot. I am not an “off with their heads” fan in general, but if Lavy directs any more “lineup decisions” towards Turris of all players, I may strongly suggest a personnel replacement of another kind.

Musa: Who isn’t doomed right now? Turris, Pekka, Lavy... The more games they lose, the more something drastic happens. I wonder what Poile thinks of Turris’s benching... Or is he behind it?

[Ed.: We started this roundtable before Saturday’s victory over the Blues—some people expanded on their answers and some didn’t—though Musa’s point about the team’s record still stands. If they don’t get it together and keep it together soon, whether they won one or two games in November won’t matter that much.]

Nick: Speaking of Poile... what are his options if Turris doesn’t play? You’re not exactly going to find a “picks and prospects” kind of deal for a $6M player who’s either a perennial healthy scratch or a fourth-line player.

Bryan: The last time we saw a player moved around to try and create a fit like this was Ryan Hartman. And like Kyle Turris, Hartman represented a major move that the Predators had made—in this case, a first-round pick and an anticipated prospect. In both players, the team had made an investment and were getting impatient with the immediate return. Many thought that Hartman was being played up and down the roster to reduce his value, as he was a pending RFA last summer, but there was no real evidence of that. But, like Turris, it looks like the team had been making obvious moves in order to move on. Hartman was eventually traded to Philadelphia for Wayne Simmonds—a player who seemed to be extraneous after they acquired Brian Boyle that same day. Hartman was essentially a lost asset.

And that feels like what’s happening to Turris. Being moved up and down the lineup, rumors of trades (including one report about the Ottawa Senators), and now the healthy scratches all make it seem like the writing is on the wall and Turris may be done. And for the record, I’m not on board.

Laura: I believe Turris is doomed with the Predators, though I have no idea why Lavy is wasting this asset. If he went to a team where he could center a skilled line, I believe his cap hit is reasonable in the current center market. With the way the Preds have misplayed him, though, it won’t get done without salary retention or a sweetener.

Sarah: After an abysmal 2018-19 season with the Preds, Kyle Turris came in with something to prove and up until he was benched he was, in fact, proving his point. His point being: He can be the team guy you’re looking for. The ultimate team player willing to be shuffled around from a 1B line with Matt Duchene to the fourth line with Austin Watson. He was on a mission to prove he can create offense through scoring or assists, no matter the line he’s on.

Look, I’m not here to blow smoke up anyones anyone’s rear; he’s not having a Hart Trophy season, but he’s sat for 3 games in a row and is still 11th in team points (4 goals, 5 assists)—he has just as many points as Mikael Granlund and more points than Craig Smith, Austin Watson, and Rocco Grimaldi. Points aren’t everything here, but they are still an indication of what he’s capable of. What I’m trying to say is: Clearly Turris is not the problem and if I’m being frank, the problem is without a doubt team management (looking at you Poile and Laviolette) not knowing what to do with their team, players individually, or lines.

The Preds have won two games in the nine they’ve played in the month of November. If Laviolette felt like he’d done all he could do with Turris as a player on his team and Poile wanted to trade him, it’s still the case that sitting him, telling the entire NHL how little you think of him, and losing while you’re at it is entirely counterproductive to your potential plan.

At this point, the Preds aren’t getting anything for Turris and are only forming a bad relationship with him. To be honest, I believe sitting Turris while playing prospects who are playing poorly themselves is indicative of just how badly things are going for Nashville. It’s clear that neither GMDP nor Peter Laviolette have any idea what they’re doing currently and have no plan for how to fix everything going wrong with the Preds. TL:DR: You done messed up A-aron.

Shaun: I think everybody knows that Turris’s benching is 100% personal and 100% BS. Anyone who tries to disagree is either absolutely clueless or too determined to flatter the team to provide unbiased journalism.

Kate: Yeah, it’s just bad from start to finish. I don’t think I’d say it’s personal; plenty of coaches in the NHL don’t like using players who don’t fit in their systems, without that reflecting on how they felt about the player to start, but I agree it’s still pretty much indefensible. Turris has been playing well all season—surprisingly well all season for someone who’s been bounced around as much as he has.

He’s not great defensively, but he never has been, and he is still contributing very well on offense. He’d have more points if he weren’t spending most of his time with bottom-six players. You know I’m OTF’s designated Calle Järnkrok liker, but the Iron Hook is not actually an offensive play-driver, and neither is Rocco Grimaldi, or Colton Sissons, or Austin Watson. Yes, as some people have pointed out, he spent more time with Duchene and Granlund than any other two players, but he spent only about a third of his season with them. The rest? Not so much.

If a coach can’t work with a player, or can’t fit the player into their system, the smart thing to do for the team and the fair thing to do for the player is to try to get the player traded. Turris was beloved for years in Ottawa, he seems like a genuinely good guy, and he’s a darn good hockey player. Telling him and the league that the Preds don’t value him—calling up Mathieu Olivier from Milwaukee and playing him repeatedly in the middle of a losing streak while the offense stagnated and Turris sat with the rest of the healthy scratches—isn’t a good way to get any kind of value in return, and it’s not kind or fair to Turris himself.

If they’re going to trade him, I’ll be sad, but I hope he goes somewhere where he’s actually allowed to play and the team values him. I’d say that I hope the Preds recoup some assets in the trade, but, as a lot of other people have said, they’ve gone about this thing all wrong if they are hoping to trade him.