Solving Nashville’s​ Kyle Turris Problem

by Thomas Sarver

The lack of solid depth at center became apparent in the 2017 Stanley Cup finals after Ryan Johansen went down with an injury during the end of conference finals against Anaheim. The long term issue with Nashville once again came to haunt the team but this time the stakes were much larger than ever before.

The immediate solution? Sign centreman Nick Bonino who was one of the best third line centers in the league and hope he can manage as a decent second liner. Well, that didn’t work out as the team hoped it would so Nashville participated in a three-team blockbuster trade that sent Kyle Turris to Nashville. Turris looked the part of second line center and put up really nice numbers before disappearing once the playoffs started.

But once the next season starts he will be able to regain that tremendous form, right? Wrong. Injuries ended up plaguing him nearly half of his season, and whenever Turris was on the ice and healthy he looked like the opposite of a game-changing player. So, what changed?

During Turris’ first year with the team, it was very obvious that he had a preference in shooting location on the ice which is normal for veteran players. Turris shot nearly half of his shots in area where the faceoff circles and mid-high slot meet. In that area, he scored 11 of his 16 goals. He was also able to provide 29 assists in that season and while it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly on the ice he was for those assists, it’s unlikely that the amount of time spent in that high danger area was a nonfactor.

Then, starting in the playoffs in 2018 and carrying into the most recent season, Turris’ approach changed. Turris’ shots per game dropped from 1.8 to 1.4 per game which may not seem like a big difference but in addition to that, his preferred shooting spot changed, as did his goal totals and not for the better. Turris went from scoring 70% of his goals from that slot area where he shot 45% of his shots from to shooting 33% of his shots from there and only scoring 33% of the time when he shot from there. Instead of shooting more times in that high danger area, Turris instead shot less often and when he did shoot, his shots were from terrible angels coming from the far side of the faceoff circle. This issue was very similar to an article I wrote about Kevin Fiala earlier on in the season.

So now that has been addressed, a lot of fans have been very pushy to trading him, especially with the recent success Turris had while captaining team Canada.

Turris finished the tournament as a point a game player, and due to that his trade value is probably the highest it has been in the past year. That being said, however, his contract might as well have a no-movement clause as it would be hard to convince a team to commit to that deal. So, I started thinking, what if trading Turris is not the answer? What if the Preds traded for one of the two players he played within the tournament instead? After all, coming off a tournament in which he captained one of the best national teams in the world would do a lot for the confidence. Add onto that by including one of the players he played well with and it could be enough to break the cycle of extremely mediocre play that Turris has shown.

So, who did Turris play with? Anthony Mantha and Jared McCann. While Mantha would be the ideal player, it would be a lot easier to acquire Jared McCann. But we will start with Mantha who is the player who is without a doubt more fun.

Anthony Mantha who is a former first-round pick for Detroit has proven to have a nose for putting the puck in the net as he has scored 49 goals in the past two seasons. To add to that scoring ability, Mantha has good size at 6’5” and 225 pounds. A player like this who also can play on either wing would not be the cheapest thing in the world but be physical enough to open up opportunities for Turris as he can drive to the net and create the space for Turris to move in. While playing on the same line as Turris in the worlds, Mantha had seven goals and seven assists in 14 games

Now for the fun part, figuring out Mantha’s trade value. Usually, Detroit could be bullied when Ken Holland was the GM since he had signed terrible long-term contracts for old talent but that is not the case anymore, Steve Yzerman has taken over and in case you need a little note of what he can do with a team. He made Tampa Bay the contender they are today, so he is not a dumb guy by any stretch of the imagination. Nashville could probably lower the price on Mantha by agreeing to take on the last year of Johan Franzen’s contract which is currently occupying around 4 mil from Detroit’s cap, but even then, the Preds would have to sign Mantha to a big raise next year.

Now for McCann, another former first-round pick. McCann would be incredibly cheaper than Mantha, but you get what you pay for. McCann really isn’t anything special but something he did was working for Canada, whether it’s his brain or two-way ability. Don’t let his 5 points in 10 games fool you either, after all, he has taken a step forward in production at a consistent manner each season and after being traded to the Penguins, he was producing at .53 points per game rate. It would not be incredibly crazy for McCann to breakout next year have 40-50 points.

As for trade value, McCann is easier to gauge give how he is on his third team in four seasons. Every time he has been traded, McCann has not been the focal point of the trade, he has been the sweetener, so I doubt that he would cost more than a 3rd or a 4th round pick but I mean, as long as he performs better than Wayne Simmonds I don’t think Preds fans will mind terribly. McCann’s contract is also running out though but where Mantha will probably make anywhere from 5-8 mil a year, McCann will probably earn a much more modest 2 mill a year, making him an extremely attractive opportunity. Also given Pittsburgh’s efforts to create cap space, the Preds could take on a bad contract to make the trade value even cheaper.

Lastly, where does that leave Turris’ current linemates? Smith, Granlund, and Járnkrok are still going to be on the team of course, and I think Smith stays on the second line. But a whole separate article can be written about the state of the second line, so I will do that.

What Deadline Day Moves Impact the Preds the Most?

by Thomas Sarver

In one of the most exciting trade deadlines to date, it was easy to get lost in all the commotion. When your team’s GM makes two major trades during the last twenty minutes is absolutely a fair reason to not really notice what other teams had done/ were doing. Needless to say, the Preds were not the only busy team this year.

Dallas Stars

Key Players moved in/out: Mats Zuccarello, Ben Lovejoy

These are really solid moves for really solid players. Dallas did catch a bit of bad luck as Zuccarello went down in his first game and will miss around a month due to a broken arm, but Lovejoy remains and is a fantastic player to shore up this defensive unit.

All Dallas has to do is simply survive over Colorado or Minnesota. One of those two teams sold heavily at the deadline and the other did not make a move despite just ending a streak of games where they won four out of twenty-five games.

Given that information, I think it is safe to say that Dallas can squeak into the playoffs and may even possibly give Nashville/Winnipeg a rough time when they return back to being healthy.

Minnesota Wild

Key players moved in/out: Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala/ Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund

Minnesota is attempting to rebuild. Good for them for being able to realize that they are not ready to go head to head in the “arms race” we are seeing in this division. Thankfully for their GM’s sake, Donato and Fiala are good pieces to get early on into your rebuild.

The bad news though is that Minnesota could’ve gotten much more for Granlund than just Fiala. I would’ve expected a pick to be attached with that. To make things worse for the Wild, as long as Suter and Parise remain on the team with those anchors called contracts, then the Wild will not be able to be relevant.

Nashville Predators

Key players moved in/out: Mikael Granlund, Wayne Simmonds/ Fiala, Hartman

Nashville moved two of its more exciting, younger players in order to get more matured and consistent versions. Granlund is the same player as Fiala, but the main difference is Granlund knows how to use his smaller frame to set up scoring chances and has some position flexibility, whereas Fiala easily can be bullied on the ice.  

On to part two. While Wayne Simmonds is slower and regressing at a fast pace, he is a bona fide game changer. Much like the first trade mentioned, Simmonds is a more matured version of Hartman and even though Simmonds is on the back burner of his career, he should be able to step in a give the third/ second powerplay lines a much-needed boost. This move makes me believe that Poile is trying to get Rinne a cup.

San Jose Sharks

Key players moved in/out: Gustav Nyquist

This team did pretty much all their trading for the season when they acquired Erik Karlsson before the first dropped puck. However, this is a sneaky good smaller move for San Jose.

For a second round and a conditional third pick, the Sharks were able to add another scoring option on the wing which just adds to the depth on this team. This one move doesn’t suddenly make them the best team in the league, but by judging all the moves made in the last 12 months, I’m assuming that San Jose is making another cup push this year and they think Nyquist is the missing piece.

I would not be surprised to see San Jose be one of the last four remaining teams this year.

Vegas Golden Knights

Key Players moved in/out: Mark Stone/ Erik Brannstrom

Vegas lost a really good prospect, but they just got a lot better. The Golden Knights haven’t looked bad this season, but they look nothing like the team we saw make the final in their first season. Acquiring Stone, who was the number one target at the deadline, is the type of move that can get this team back in gear.

When Vegas lost James Neal and David Perron last year in free agency, they lost two players who brought a distinct skill to the game and Stone will be able to help fill that void of scoring and two-way play that seems to be taking over on Vegas’ wings. Stone may be able to even step in as a captain in the future, especially since he has committed 8 years to the city and franchise.

Winnipeg Jets

Key Players moved in/out: Kevin Hayes/ Brendan Lemieux

Kind of weird to think about a team like Winnipeg and the trade deadline. This team who has one of the most stingy GM’s in the league when it comes to trades triggered a rule on Monday’s deadline due to trading. That rule is that teams are only allowed to make six trades in a twenty-four-hour period. What did Winnipeg do with all those trades? Pretty much nothing!

Getting Kevin Hayes has the potential to have the impact that Paul Statsny had as a rental last year and that’s what Winnipeg wants again. Unfourtatnly for Jets fans though, the Jets focused on adding more depth players who could be used in the event of an injury instead of getting another starting piece or two for the playoffs.

A day like this tells me that Winnipeg believes that they are the best team in the West and are just trying to make sure injuries don’t derail their chances at a cup before they lose their young core.

Those were the teams who made impacting moves when it comes to looking at the western playoff bracket. What is just as interesting though is that Chicago, St Louis, Colorado, and Calgary had relatively quiet deadline days and that Calgary was one of the last teams in on Stone. Thankfully for the rest of the West, that did not happen. But now that the trading season is over we will now be watching to see who actually won on deadline day and who lost.

Here is our quick take on what happened yesterday.

The Daily Deke: All the Trade News You can Handle!

The headline doesn’t lie. All of the top NHL news and stories from yesterday’s NHL Trade Deadline can be found below. Also, check out the highlights to last night’s game!

Thanks Fiala and Hartman! Welcome Simmonds and Granlund!

Grab your morning beverage and read up!

Here is our quick take on how to Preds stack up with the new acquisitions.

Game Highlights:

Video courtesy of the Official NHL YouTube Channel

Preds News:

Nashville Predators win Simmonds sweepstakes – I guess they did.

Predators trade Ryan Hartman, draft pick to Philadelphia Flyers for Wayne Simmonds – What do you think? Fair trade?

Predators trade Kevin Fiala to Minnesota Wild in exchange for Mikael Granlund – Also this happened

Nashville Predators trades improve forward lines for playoff push

Nashville Predators: A Scary, But True Outlook to Rest of the Season – Does the outlook change after these trades?

NHL News:

NHL notebook: Knights acquire Stone at deadline

2019 NHL trade deadline: Reaction to every deal, including Mark Stone to Vegas and Wayne Simmonds to Predators

Winners and losers of the 2019 NHL trade deadline

Evaluating the Winners and Losers of the NHL Trade Deadline

NHL trade grades: Breaking down the best, worst deals from 2019 deadline day

Bruins get Marcus Johansson from Devils, continue to stockpile forwards

Rangers trade Kevin Hayes to Jets for Brendan Lemieux, picks

NHL Trading Deadline: Five Buy-Low Candidates For the Rangers to Consider

5 Players the Predators should be calling teams about.

by Thomas Sarver

UPDATE: As of the original time of publishing of this article, all of these players were available. Shortly after posting, both Ryan Dzingle (CBJ) and Mats Zuccarello (DAL) were traded. I guess that goes to show you how fast the NHL moves at the trade deadline.

As hockey fans, we are in one of the most exciting periods of the year. The trade deadline. This is where teams not only acquire the final pieces they need to make noise in the playoffs, it is also where teams fail and lose any chance of having a dynasty by overpaying for pieces. A true make or break moment. So, what are some pieces that would either A. be the final piece the Preds need to make a return to cup or B. impactful players that would not require Nashville to mortgage their future in order to acquire.

5 Wayne Simmonds

Kicking off this list with a name that everyone has seen before. Wayne Simmonds brings more grit which is something the Preds are not lacking now that they have Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod.

But what Simmonds also does is he brings an eye for scoring which is something Nashville could desperately use. Simmonds has been a twenty plus goal scorer since he moved to Philadelphia from L.A. (excluding the lockout season).

This is the type of production that Nashville could use to boost scoring on the midlines or the second powerplay unit and would not cost as much as other players for this role, due to his age and expiring contract. He also has a number of games played in the playoffs which adds to what he can bring to the table. You can never have too much experience.

4 Ryan Dzingel

Is it me, or do former late-round draft picks just play harder in general?

Dzingel, a former 7th round pick is really showing the Senators why they should’ve signed him to a deal longer than just two years. So far, Dzingel has followed up his impressive 2017-2018 campaign with a lights out campaign this season. In 57 games this season, he has put up 22 goals and 22 assists and already plays the role that Nashville would use him for.

At 26 years old, this is also the type of player that would be ideal to do a sign and trade with, especially since he would probably be looking for a mid-level contract instead of the high-level contracts that Panarin, Stone, or even Wayne Simmonds would be looking for.

3 Mats Zuccarello

Even though his career has not been the most consistent regarding point totals, this is a player who would not only boost the offensive side of the game but would also boost the Preds transition game.

A problem I’ve noticed with the Preds lately is there seems to be issues when Nashville goes to move the puck from defensive zone to offensive zone, and a player like Zuccarello would help raise the pace of play in a way that is similar to Arvidsson.

Also worth noting is also his ability to light up the scoreboard in the playoffs, most notably putting up 13 points in 25 games in the Rangers cup run. That may not seem like much but say he was on the Preds cup run team, that total would’ve made him tied for third on the team in scoring. So as far as bang for your buck goes, Zuccarello may provide the best bargain, especially when you put him on a semi-competent team.

2 Mark Stone

The name that most people were probably expecting to be first on this list. Stone is also probably the only remaining big piece that is going to be making a move this deadline as I doubt

Panarin will be moving now that Columbus has acquired Duchene. Since earning a full-time spot on the Ottawa Senators, Stone has put up at least 54 points in each season. He could probably have more, but he also hasn’t been able to play a full 82 game season yet in his career.

I feel like that’s something that doesn’t get enough attention, I mean we are talking about a player who would come in to help Nashville win the Stanley Cup. It really makes things difficult to do that when you have players who can’t stay healthy. Remember when Sissons was Nashville’s number one center in the Stanley Cup final?

1 Toronto Wingers

Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are unlikely to even get traded. This would only be a possibility if Nashville was willing to move one of their right-handed defensemen, which is also super unlikely.

In a crazy world where that was a possibility though, either one of these players would be able to step in and immediately help out in multiple aspects of the game. Both of whom are also in their first-year full year as a starter and on expiring deals.

They can only get better from here. When you factor in that Toronto is going to be preoccupied with signing Matthews and Marner while against the cap. Nashville may be able to take advantage of a young GM whose back is against the cap ceiling. On the downside, in order to get one of these players, Toronto would probably want one of Ellis, Ekholm, or Subban. You can make the argument for Fabbro, but Toronto is in win-now mode. I doubt Nashville would pull the trigger unless Toronto did, in fact, prefer acquiring Fabbro.

While I imagine a lot of people wanted Nashville to go out and get Matt Duchene or attempt to go out and get the remaining big fish like Panarin or Stone, I’m not sure that’s the best move. Nashville has seen first-hand with Chicago what happens when a team forgets to restock their minor team. Nashville has already traded away plenty of pieces like Girad, Kamenev, their first, second, and third-round pick in last year’s draft, so the number of tradeable pieces that Nashville has gotten significantly smaller than a lot of fans a willing to realize.

Off the Podcast 13: PK or Weber?

Thomas and Patrick talk about who won the blockbuster trade a couple of years ago.

Check out Thomas’s latest article here.

Check out our links!



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5 Deadline Players the Preds Should Avoid

by Thomas Sarver

When the Preds acquired Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod there was no denying that Preds no longer needed grit. In addition to that added grit, the Preds also got a boost on the powerplay with Boyle coming in with six powerplay goals on the season. That made him the team leader in powerplay goals.

While Cody McLeod only has one-real dimension to his game,  it is a bone-crushing one. In fact, McLeod’s mere presence as a player in the game makes opposing players have second thoughts when it comes to delivering a big hit.

Those reasons alone are the reason that these moves fit the Preds needs really well, but what are some pieces that the Preds should avoid acquiring.

#5 Micheal Ferland

With the smallest cap hit among rentals of his caliber, Ferland is automatically a very attractive rental. But unless you are willing to shell out a lot of money in the offseason to keep him, that is all he is, a rental. Ferland has a tremendous on-ice impact with his physicality and scoring ability.

While those qualities are very important, the Preds now have that impact with Brian Boyle. When you factor that in with the amount of interest there is in him all around the league, I’d expect the price to be sky high. Carolina has to make up for getting fleeced when they trade Jeff Skinner somehow right?

#4 Jakob Silverberg

A player that the Preds know all about, Silverberg is a mid-line goal scorer, which is a need for the Preds who have had trouble with secondary scoring this year. A hang-up though is that the soon to be rebuilding Ducks have not for sure declared that they are selling.

However, with buzz picking up around the league about Anaheim possibly trading long-time captain Ryan Getzlaf, I think it’s safe to say they will be selling sooner rather than later. If Anaheim pulls the trigger on going full rebuild, I expect them to express interest in Kevin Fiala. Fiala’s age and experience is something that Anaheim may want in order to limit their rebuild to only a couple of seasons.

While this all looks really attractive to fans as well since Fiala has been heavily criticized this season for not recapturing his goalscoring form from last year. Trading him for a goal scorer sounds ideal, but if Fiala is to be moved, it has to be for the right player, and Nashville can leverage Fiala to get a much more impactful player than Silverberg.

#3 Panarin

One of only nine active players who average at least a point per game, not much needs to be said about what Panarin brings offensively. Any team in the league could use a player with that game-breaking ability. The problem here, however, is the price.

The Blue Jackets are wanting fair value for their star winger, which is a lot. That makes this situation a big gamble as Panarin has been very insistent on which markets he wants to sign in.

Unfortunately, Nashville was not on the list, which makes him the best rental available, but at the end of the day, just a rental. So, with all of that in mind, the Blue Jackets would likely want this year’s first-round pick and Eeli Tolvanen for Panarin. The question is, would Panarin be the final piece?

#2 Duchene

My oh my has Matt Duchene made a comeback. Since arriving in Ottawa in the same three-team trade that sent Kyle Turris to Nashville, Duchene has been an elite player for the Senators.

Is Duchene only elite because Ottawa has a lack of weapons? When he was in Colorado, on a team with plenty of scoring options, he started to regress as the team added more and more weapons. He practically vanished.

Due to that, I have three concerns when I think about the Preds possibly trading for Duchene. Would Duchene be able to adjust well on a team where he would be the seventh or eighth scoring option instead of being the first or second?

If he can’t adjust well, would he be an upgrade over Turris or Bonino? Lastly, would a possible third line player be worth a first round pick, plus?

#1 Kovalchuk

My heart wants this. I want to see Kovalchuk in a Preds jersey, I won’t lie. I would prefer it if it was 2012 Kovalchuk though.

A six-year hiatus in the KHL has returned a very different Kovalchuk than the superstar we saw leave. The one thing that is not different though is his high salary. At $6.250 million a year for two more years, this contract is more than concerning enough to sink Kovalchuk’s trade value. 

It gets even worse when you factor in that he is a 35 years old athlete who is adjusting to a smaller rink than he is used to playing on. That being said, even though his return was way overhyped, his on-ice play hasn’t been terrible and makes you wonder what would happen if he was on a better team.

If it wasn’t for the term on his contract, Kovalchuk would be the ideal rental player for the playoffs this year.

To be completely honest, I would be more than happy with the Preds not making too many trades as we did not have a single pick in the first three rounds of last years draft. As important as acquiring the big pieces for the playoffs is, having young players to replace them the next year is just as important.

The Daily Deke: The Stars are Out

The Nashville Predators are back in action tonight to put a beat down on the Dallas Stars.

Catch up on all the latest Preds and NHL news before the game tonight.

Spoiler. There are a lot of trade rumors!

Preds News:

NHL Trade Deadline: Nashville Predators — Time is now?

Predators’ need to acquire a scorer before playoffs should be top priority

The Week That Was: Chapter 19

Nashville Predators Should Acquire Forward Ryan Dzingel

NHL trade rumors: Senators plan to move Matt Duchene; Blue Jackets, Predators interested

Weekly Edge: Three pressure points hitting the Nashville Predators at the same time

NHL News:

Current NHL Standings

Seattle NHL team’s new engagement head wants fans watching games, not their phones

Nikita Kucherov continues prolific run with five-point night against Blue Jackets

NHL owner rescues fledgling AAF with much-needed cash infusion

Sabres’ Kyle Okposo sent home 3 days after being punched in face

NHL Goals of the Week: Aleksander Barkov’s goal of the year candidate