The Nashville Predators have been playing badly for close to a month now, and the front office is finally beginning to respond to the crisis. The tool of choice so far has been the waiver claim, which has resulted in four of Nashville’s roster spots being filled by players who had never donned a gold sweater before 2013. That will work as a band-aid, but picking up other people’s castaways won’t really do much to address several key issues this team faces going forward.
The best choice for real improvement is to make a trade. Nashville has traditionally been a buyer at the deadline over the last decade or so, but this year’s roster has shown some serious fundamental flaws and is more likely to be improved by selling. In my mind, there’s no better candidate for a sale than David Legwand.
Six Reasons the Nashville Predators Should Trade David Legwand
He’s isn’t producing.
With seven points (3G-4A) in 23 games, Legwand is doing next to nothing to justify playing on the second line. His 17:42 a night comes more out of necessity and long-term habit than anything he’s doing the ice.
Nashville has other centers who could fill his spot.
With Paul Gaustad, Colin Wilson, Nick Spaling, and Craig Smith on the roster, there are plenty of other centers on the team that can take David Legwand’s place. In fact, more ice time is exactly what Smith and Wilson needs to develop into the players David Poile and Barry Trotz hope they can be.
He has a strong narrative lure for playoff contenders.
One of the classic trade-deadline narratives is that an underperforming player “needs a change of scenery.” Sometimes it’s even true. If there were ever a player who fit that story perfectly, it’s David Legwand. He was Nashville’s first-ever draft pick, he’s played every game of his career with them, and he leads them all-time in most statistical categories.
People love stories. Some people love them so much that they construct their entire world views around stories that aren’t anywhere close to the truth. And some of those people are NHL general managers. (See Feaster, Jay.) Throw in the high-pressure demands of fanbases who think they’re one piece away from winning the Stanley Cup and you have the perfect recipe for a pliant trading partner.
He isn’t a pending UFA.
two one more season at $4.5 million left on his contract. A team looking to do more than rent could see that as a benefit, much like Nashville did with Mike Fisher when they picked him up from the Ottawa Senators a few seasons back.
You’re never going to get more for him.
In a lockout-shortened season, everybody who’s within just a few points of making the playoffs is going to consider themselves real contenders, including at least a few teams that have no realistic shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Right now there’s a greater likelihood than will ever be seen again that somebody out there is going to be willing to overpay for Legwand. The best part is that it doesn’t even matter what the particular overpayment is. Decent young role-players, an experienced defenseman, or a solid prospect could help. Draft picks would also help, especially given the promising talent up for grabs this summer. Whatever you get is going to be more valuable than Legwand is on the ice right now.
It frees up $9 million in cap space over the next two seasons.
When David Legwand is playing his absolute best hockey he mostly justifies his price tag. But when he becomes Lazy Legwand, as he’s been this year, he’s not worth half that. Having his $4.5 million in cap space available would go a long way toward being able to lure some scoring talent to Nashville via free agency. It would also serve as a buffer against the impending drop of the salary cap after this season.
There’s no player more closely associated with the Nashville Predators than David Legwand. That’s been a good thing many times over the years, but this season it isn’t. The team is playing like he’s playing and they’re near the bottom of the Western Conference as a result. The front office has acknowledged that it’s time for a change. Sending the Original Predator on his way to a playoff contender somewhere would serve multiple purposes: freeing up ice time for younger players, preparing for changes to the salary cap, and sending the rest of the team a strong message that nobody is guaranteed a spot on the team if they can’t perform.