The last few years David Poile has pulled off some pretty big deals near or at the trade deadline. He’s publicly said that he wants to be a buyer again this season, and media sources are calling the Preds buyers. But there are a few reasons I don’t think recent Nashville Predators trade deadline history is going to repeat itself.
THREE REASONS I DON’T EXPECT A BIG NASHVILLE PREDATORS TRADE DEADLINE DEAL
Low on defensive assets
Kevin Allen’s recent team-by-team look at the trade deadline in USA Today said the Preds have “some depth at defense to move.” Partly this is probably Scott Hannan, but I don’t expect there are a lot of teams who would want him given how badly he’s performed in Nashville this season. It probably also means Jonathon Blum, whose contract is up at the end of this season.
Ryan Ellis might be a possibility has more upside and another year left on his contract; the team moved him back to Milwaukee last weekend and kept Blum. If my time reading tea leaves and Tarot cards (and the Vancouver Canucks) has taught me anything it’s that teams leave guys who they’re thinking of moving on the NHL roster and give them more ice time to make them attractive targets for other teams.
It doesn’t seem likely that Poile would move Ellis for anything less than a major deal (unless the team manages to sign Danny DeKeyser). So outside of Blum and Hannan, there’s not much else Poile is going to want to part with if he really wants to make a playoff run. The return on either one of those players isn’t going likely to be a #2 defenseman or a top-six goalscoring forward, so even if they are moved they won’t qualify as “big deals.”
Low on attractive forward assets
The Nashville Predators’ forward situation doesn’t look a lot better when it comes to trade bait. Most deadline buyers aren’t looking to get rid of its veterans, which cuts out about half of the roster. Outside of them there are a few young guys like Taylor Beck who aren’t going anywhere and a few mostly interchangeable players who would stand a pretty good chance of clearing if they were put on waivers.
That really doesn’t make for much bargaining power – unless Poile has decided that Craig Smith is expendable. Even if he has, what is the return going to be for a second-year player who had one really great stretch to start his career followed by a slump that resulted in him being sent to the AHL for conditioning? (I like what Smith is capable of, but this is certainly how I’d undercut his price if I wanted to buy him.) Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem likely to be a piece that will turn the Predators into a playoff force. I think Smith is more valuable to the team by staying on the roster than whatever he would bring in a trade.
Low on draft picks
Given the disposable parts we looked at just a second ago, it seems that there’s a strong chance David Poile will have to throw in a draft pick or two if he really wants to land an impact player without giving up any crucial pieces of the team. But that would hurt the team’s long-term prospects.
This is the first time since 2010 that the Nashville Predators have had a first-round draft pick. They shipped their 2011 and 2012 picks away in trades for Mike Fisher and Paul Gaustad. This year’s second-round pick is already gone, too, having departed in last season’s Montreal Canadiens-Nashville Predators trade deadline deal for Andrei Kostitsyn. In a year when the Preds need to stock up in the draft, Poile shouldn’t be sending away too many picks.
This is all just my complete outsider’s opinion. For all I know David Poile could be on the phone right now with Darcy Regier getting ready to unload Scott Hannan, Jonathon Blum, and Craig Smith to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek. But that’s crazy talk…right? I’m not expecting to see any kind of Nashville Predators trade deadline move that would get me excited, and even if I did I’d probably start to worry right away what it meant for the team’s future.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Is Poile really going to put together a blockbuster? Or is any deal he makes going to be minor at best?