I’ve said on multiple times, there needs to be a statue of Poile and Trotz at the corner of 5th and Broadway in Nashville. After the trade deadline has passed, the braintrust that has guided the Predators into consistency has done us proud. Going into the deadline seasons, the Preds had three needs. 1. Top six forward. 2. Depth forward, physical, center. 3. Bulldozer-type defenseman.
Now imagine addressing all of those without giving up top prospects OR roster players. That’s what David Poile did.
Did Poile shed some draft picks? You bet. But given where the Preds were hoping to pick this year, and given the depth of this year’s draft… not a bad loss. Did he overpay for Gaustad? That’s debatable. Did he get a good deal on Andrei? Likely. I consider that a wash, especially with the Gill move.
The team is much bigger and tougher than it was weeks ago. Even since losing to Chicago in the playoffs, Poile has been hellbent on bringing up the size and speed of the roster. Guys like Gabriel Bourque and Jordin Tootoo have used their speed very well to create transition opportunities, reminiscent of that other team that went for it with Forsberg, Kariya, Sullivan and the guys. However, this year there’s more sandpaper in the lineup.
The Gaustad move will be the one that will be ridiculed by a few people outside of Nashville, but like the guys at the Predatorial, I agree that the price paid was OK. Also, the first round hasn’t exactly been loaded the past few years. Adding a guy into the lineup that’s big, nasty, and wins faceoffs? Hell, sign me up.
Gaustad isn’t perfect, but he doesn’t have to be. He takes the pressure off of Legwand and Fisher more, and gives the Preds a great faceoff option. Don’t think that is not important to Barry Trotz. Also, the flexibility of putting Craig Smith back to the wing could help restart his offensive game IF he is kept up with the big club, and not sent down for some seasoning in Milwaukee.
As a whole, there’s a lot to be happy about with the arrival of Gaustad. It’s a rental, but in a year where you want to make a serious run, he’s an ingredient that winning teams have. Chicago had John Madden anchoring a checking line when they won it all. Paul Gaustad is a better fit in Nashville than just about anywhere else.
But before the 6’5” former Sabre’s name was added to the Preds roster, the headlines already belonged to Poile and company. After Columbus management botched the exit of Rick Nash (why he is not a Ranger or Predator tonight, only Scott Howson knows. Nash won’t yield a bigger return in the summer. Book it.), the Preds pursued lesser options. With the line to Montreal still fresh in Poile’s phone, the Preds landed Sergei’s brother Andrei Kostitsyn for a second round pick, and voiding the 5th round conditional obtained in Hall Gill’s acquisition. Again, if Nashville overpayed for Gaustad, Andrei could prove to be a steal. Sergei is a pending RFA, and loves Nashville. Andrei is unrestricted, but given the reaction, I doubt he’ll want to play anywhere else other than with his brother should things work out here.
Andrei is, on paper, exactly what the doctor ordered. He shoots everything. He hits most things. He just needs some of that gold and blue kool-aid that Sergei had last year to make him into a complete forward. Erat will vouch for that stuff as well.
Sure, we’ll hear about how he was a headcase, involved with the mafia, and all sorts of rotten stuff. Some of it is likely true. Not all of it, but some of it. However, this is not a place where athletes are put under a microscope. Nashville didn’t have paparazzi following around Adam Pac-Man Jones when he was here, and he was kicking up far more dust than both of the Belorussians ever could. No, this is a place where you won’t be hounded and followed to Panera for lunch. A welcome change for an older brother who didn’t tolerate the white hot microscope of Canadian media. Very few can. That’s why Mats Sundin has a banner in the rafters.
Is Andrei worth a second rounder? You bet.
The Hal Gill move looks more like the catalyst to start the ball rolling. As a whole, the Predators addressed all three needs AND:
- Got some serious size in their lineup
- Have some great leadership in the locker room
- Did not surrender a roster player
- Did not surrender a top prospect
Not a bad day of work from David Poile to cap off an absolute masterpiece of a season in the roster assembly department.