Report: Scott Hartnell is back on the trade block, was nearly part of the Johansen for Jones trade
Which raises the question: does Scott Hartnell make sense right now?
Firstly, Scott Hartnell waived his non-movement clause.
Per @FriedgeHNIC, #CBJ F Scott Hartnell has waived his NMC. Has given GM Jarmo Kekalainen a list of teams to which he would approve a trade.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 11, 2016
#CBJ tried to trade Hartnell as far back as #NHL trade deadline. Heard he was discussed as part of larger deal in Jones-Johansen swap. #CBJ— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 11, 2016
That would've been interesting. For starters, let's take a moment and imagine the playoffs with Hartnell and without Colin Wilson. Hartnell would've had to play out of his mind, AND stay out of the penalty box in order to replicate the postseason play Wilson provided.
Hartnell is 34, and he has three years left on his deal worth $4.5 million AAV. If you exclude the lockout year, his last season without 20 goals was 2009-2010, which he followed with 17 points in 23 playoff games.
That's all ancient history for a hockey player, and especially one with his style of play. We say it time and time again with athletes: speed is the first thing to leave the body. Power is the last, and size rarely leaves (unless you're an NFL lineman... it's not healthy to stay at that weight forever). Hartnell isn't a huge player, he just knows where the goals are: in front of the net.
Plenty of Nashville fans love this guy, and it's not hard to see why. He's a tough guy, a team leader, a good guy on the ice, and the team did a good job of marketing him. And since he left Nashville, he had his best seasons under who? Peter Laviolette, that's who. He was put beside a playmaking center who needed a left-handed shot in front of the net.
Where it actually makes sense:
Ryan Johansen made Nick Foligno a lot of money. Foligno skated a bit more than Hartnell, but there are a few similarities in their game. And yes, they both have obnoxious contracts. Foligno is being paid north of $5m and had 37 points last year.
Nick Foligno is also a guy who plays close to the net, and a left-handed shot.
James Neal is a guy who defines the role of "sniper", but while he's also a lefty, he plays primarily on the right side. Sure, Neal could do the job of Foligno/Hartnell/Playoff Colin Wilson, but he's James Neal and he got the skills to pay the bills, etc.
Yeah... let's keep that out of harm's way.
Where it doesn't make sense:
Earlier this off-season, I talked myself into accepting the idea of Eric Staal joining the Predators. I'm not ashamed of it. He's a good player, but he has a ton of question marks. There are less question marks with Scott Hartnell, but it will cost assets. And from the Columbus point of view, they need the cap room. William Karlsson and Seth Jones are due new contracts. And thanks to Jarmo Kekelainen handing out contracts like caramels, they're short on cap room. So unless Nashville overpays for Scott Hartnell's skills, they will have to pay for all of Scott Hartnell's contract for the rest of Scott Hartnell's career. Scott Hartnell is a "win now" player on a "win now" contract.
Again, he's 34.
And he's signed until he's 37.
And he takes a lot of penalties, compared to the rest of the Predators. Hartnell took 70 penalty minutes during the lockout year, and in every full season since he left Nashville he's taken over 100 penalty minutes. While he was coached by Laviolette in Philly: he took 1.83 penalty minutes a game. HE TOOK THREE PENALTIES IN EVERY FOUR GAMES OVER THE SPAN OF FIVE AND HALF SEASONS.
These same Nashville Predators were ousted from the playoffs because they couldn't stop the Sharks' power-play.
Is it worth it?
That's the dilemma with Scott Hartnell. He's a good player, and his skillset is exactly what the top line needs. But while he does a lot of things great on the ice and he puts up points, he doesn't always play defense without taking a call. He's gotten slightly better over the years, but he would've been the Preds' leader in PM's last year. He had 100 penalty minutes, which is more than any non-Rich Clune and non-Jordin Tootoo Nashville Predator has posted since 2006. That year had a lineup with Hartnell, Tootoo, and Hordichuk (LOL at Darcy Hordichuk and his 163 PM's).
So what side of the fence are you on? Hartnell is the devil you know, and he'll either be cheap with assets or cheap with his caphit... but not both. He'll score north of 40 points, 20 of which will be goals with the top line, and he'll take 100+ penalty minutes. We can say that all with confidence.
To avoid talking myself into being resigned to the fate of "acceptance", someone is here to talk me out of it.
I know some of you guys have a bunch of nostalgia for Hartnell, but I haven't met a Nashville Predator I wouldn't ruthlessly banish to Edmonton in exchange for Connor McDavid or even Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
So let's recap: Scott Hartnell is 34 years old and signed with a cap hit of $4.75m until 2019. The cash on the last year of that deal is a little better, at $3m, but he'll be 37. He clocked in at a respectable 23 goals and 26 assists this season, but we're ready to hit the panic button over Weber turning 31. That's a bit too much money and term for production that is likely to start skydiving in the near future.
Now, imagine your favorite play from this year. Maybe Forsberg, streaking down the left wing, makes a beautiful tape to tape saucer pass over a diving defenseman and--#hartnelldown. It's not just a joke or a great charity the guy runs: he's a terrible skater. This team is built on speed and skating, not guys barely able to stay on their skates and then probably taking a tripping penalty when they fall over.
Oh yeah, he takes a lot of penalties. Our own Alex Daugherty crunched some numbers last year and came to the conclusion that Hartnell is tops in the league for hurting his team by landing in the penalty box. He also just published a piece on the Predator's penalty kill being hot garbage. We had a lot of success in the Ducks series by keeping cool and not retaliating every time the Ducks tried something, but I can't imagine that being the case if you plugged Hartnell into the lineup. That's a lot of fire to play with.
All of this is ignoring what it would take to acquire him. They'll most likely want to deal him for cap space, and if comparable cash is coming back, they're going to want a lot in cheap young assets or picks to compensate. Before the playoffs, there was some speculation for a Wilson-Hartnell flip, spurred by Wilson's horrible season. That's still not going to happen even with his *fire.emoji* playoffs. Are you willing to lose a high pick and help Jarmo restock his center pipeline since he accidentally lost all of theirs?
Hartnell is too expensive, both in dollars and assets, for a product that is not guaranteed, except for one thing: putting this team on the PK a lot more than I'm comfortable with. Just say no.