by Ed Neely
The new year brings some consistent things every year. It brings resolutions about eating right, getting in shape and saving more money. It also brings trade rumors in the NHL, and Nashville tends to buzz like a bee hive because of General Manager David Poile and his nerves of steel. This year is no different and, given the Predators performance last year and the injury to Filip Forsberg, the rumor wires are going nuts.
Poile is a veritable mad scientist who has pulled off deals to lure guys like Paul Kariya here as free agents and has pulled off lopsided trades for the likes of Peter Forsberg for Ryan Parent and Scotty Upshall, and then Filip Forsberg for a ham sandwich and diet coke. He rolled the dice on Partic Hornqvist for James Neal and Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen. Both of these trades can be argued to have helped both teams. Finally he has pulled off blockbuster trades such as Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. Will this year be any different and what does this team need to get two more post season victories?
Who would they move in order to give the Preds that kick. Some read Poile’s comments to the Tennessean’s Adam Vingan last month that he was not willing to move a defenseman as the gospel and that we can count on keeping our blue line depth as is. But if you read the context of his statement it didn’t say “not at all”, rather it sounded more like “not yet” or “not now”. Poile told Vingan “With the injury to Ellis, the trade of (Samuel) Girard (to the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 5), I do not want to go below eight defensemen at this time,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “I want to make sure (Ellis) comes back and is 100 percent (and) we have no setbacks there. If we need to make a roster move, it will not be with our defense.” Granted it is a small sample size, but Ryan Ellis has returned and is playing better each game. He is shooting the puck, taking and making hits, and has played some pretty good defense. When you couple that with the fact that Poile just locked down Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto to bargain-basement contract extensions, and the fact that Alexei Emelin has been playing very solid defense as of late but will be a unrestricted free agent at the end of the season who will likely ask well over his current $4.1M cap hit, Poile may be tempted to move him to a team that needs a good stay at home defender in order to give the Preds more scoring depth in the forward corps. But who are the most likely candidates out there for the Predators to go after and what would each of them cost?
There is a lot of buzz out there regarding the contract status of the Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty. Last week Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet said that the Habs were “aggressively shopping” Pacioretty and that they were looking for picks and prospects. This is not the first time that the 29 year old has been the subject of trade rumors, but now that the Canadiens appear to be inching closer to blowing up their roster and starting the rebuilding process with Carey Price, who is locked into a long term contract with a $7M AAV, as the center piece and the rest of the team built in Claude Julien’s image. Pacioretty said of these trade rumors “If it happens, it happens”. If this happens, as a right shooting left wing, Pacioretty could be slotted in on a line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, who is a right shot. This would allow the “3 Swedes” line ( Forsberg, Jarnkrok and Aberg), that gave Western Canada such pains, and the FiTS (Fiala, Turris, and Smith), that has been the best line so far this season, to stay together and continue to give opposing teams headaches. It is also a thought that removing the pressure of being team captain would be a good thing for Pacioretty.
Current cap hit $4.5M with one more year remaining on his contract
Anthony Duclair, of the Arizona Coyotes, has reportedly asked to be moved out of the desert and into the promised land….any promised land outside of the desert. Duclair is a left shooting wing that has played on both sides of the ice. He has a good shot, is fast and strong on his skates. Preds fans know full well that he can finish as was on display last week when he beat Juuse Saros to open up scoring in the Preds 3-2 overtime loss on the road. Duclair has 9 goals and 6 assists in 33 games played this season and would thrive on any of the lines, but especially with a gifted center such as Ryan Johansen. The Coyotes have never been afraid to take on larger contracts so that they can reach the cap floor, so the Preds could move a couple of pieces, open up some cap space and keep defensive depth in the process. This move could also be one that goes hand in hand with deals with other teams.
Cap hit $1.2M AAV and is a restricted free agent next season.
Buffalo Sabres left wing, Evander Kane, is a gifted player who is in desperate need of a change of scenery. He is a left shooting forward with 16 goals and 19 assists in 42 game played this season. He plays well on the power play and averages more than two hits per game, which would make him a more physical presence. He is a free agent at the end of the season with a pretty big cap hit, so if a deal is done for Kane, it would likely be only a rental and probably be a lower tier option for Poile.
Cap hit $5.25M
The ENTIRE Ottawa Senators Lineup
After the storybook run the Senators made to the Eastern Conference Final last season, to call this season anything other than a dumpster fire would be an understatement. They are 16 points out of 3rd in the Atlantic Division and 10 points out of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Their owner has stated that no player, including captain and two time Norris Trophy winning Erik Karlsson, is closed to trade consideration and has even hinted at selling or moving the team out of Ottawa. It really is a shame, considering the fact that two months ago they were in a buy now-win now mode when they took part in the three way deal that brought Kyle Turris to Nashville and sent multiple assets to Colorado in order to bring in center Matt Duchene. But who would we want off their roster and what would we be willing to pay for them? The most likely candidtates, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, are left wings Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith and centers Derick Brassard and J.G. Pageau. Hoffman has the highest cap hit at $5.187M and has more than two years left on his contract, but would make a great addition to the Predators lineup. Zack Smith is not as much of a scoring threat to warrant a move to get him. Derick Brassard has has 11 goals and 16 assists so far this season and is one of only six Senators who are in the positive numbers in the +/- category. He would give the Preds even more depth at center but could also play the wing on a outside of the top six. J.G. Pageau is a decent young player but is in the same category as Zack Smith, in that he would not be enough of an asset to warrant moving prospects, picks or players. Of all of these players, Hoffman is the most likely candidate.
Who am I kidding? No one knows what goes on in the mind of David Poile. It is like a chemistry set and erector set rolled into one. But if I had my choice, I would make a move for either Max Pacioretty or Mike Hoffman. Either of these would give the Predators even more scoring depth with veteran leadership and help us out for a quest to get back to the Stanley Cup Final, hopefully with a better result than last season.
But this is just my opinion.
What say you? Leave your comments below or on Facebook to let us know what you think.