Nashville Predators: A favorite player is about to leave, but who?

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

A talented roster was improved this week through a three-team deal. Now, the Nashville Predators must remove someone from the roster.

“For every to there is a fro, for every stop there is a go. And that’s what makes the world go round.” Thus are the lyrics from Disney’s “Sword in the Stone.” It is a very Disney way to summarize Newton’s Third Law. But, as the Nashville Predators are finding, it is this: for every move, there is a go.

Such is life in a professional sport. With the surprising – but needed – addition of Kyle Turris along with the return of Nick Bonino, the Predators must make room on the ice. That means someone else on the roster has to go. Most likely, back to Milwaukee.

However, I do not put anything pass General Manager David Poile. However unlikely, another trade could happen.

Even so, we are 99.99% positive someone will return to the Admirals. The only question is who. Honestly, there are three possibilities.

Pontus Aberg. Kevin Fiala. Frederick Gaudreau.

There can be only one

It is easy to look over the Predators roster and be slightly disappointed. Ryan Johansen still is without a goal. Bonino has only played five games. Some will say seeing Cody McLeod‘s name brings fits of rage. For many, three names really stand out. And those are the same three mentioned above.

Pontus Aberg has matched his point total for last regular season, but done little else to keep him in the lineup. He played a total of 102 minutes and accrued eight total shots. Fiala is not much better. Sure, he has seven assist, but zero goals. Touted for his puck handling and speed, the NHL game seems too big for him right now.

However, Gaudreau is performing like a man who wants to be on the roster daily. With two points in 12 minutes on the ice against Anaheim, Gaudreau provided a spark the fueled the team to a win. And, he is playing defense. You could combine the blocks by Aberg and Fiala and still come up short of what Gaudreau provides.

Who needed to perform well in order to stay? We put the question to Twitter before the match against Columbus. The overwhelming response said Fiala.

The eye test suggests that Gaudreau stays on the roster. And Fiala may have performed his best against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

But contracts

The issue, however, is contracts. Aberg may need to return to Milwaukee to work on some his game. His contract will not allow that. If the Predators were to send him down, Aberg must clear waivers first. Can you see a team passing up on a 24-year old winger with a great shot? Not going to happen. And it is doubtful Poile wants to lose an asset. So, Aberg stays.

This leaves Fiala and Gaudreau. Both of these players are waiver-exempt. Fiala’s age gives him the most viability in moving back to Milwaukee. Because he signed at age 18, Fiala must play 5 seasons or 160 games before waivers are attached. At this point, that won’t happen until the 2019 season.

The same cannot be said for Gaudreau. This is the final season for his waiver-exemption.

The options are simple. Keep Gaudreau and send Fiala back for a while, since there is greater flexibility there, or use the remaining waiver luxury Gaudreau allows and keep Fiala.

While I believe Fiala would benefit from going to Milwaukee – and Gaudreau has earned more time in Nashville – it is far more plausible that Poile keeps Fiala up for now. The talent he possesses is one the roster needs. Fiala can be a top-six winger. I am not sure the same could be said for Gaudreau, though I do believe he is a great player.

Next: Stanley Cup Playoffs Changed Rinne

With a move coming, expect to hear Gaudreau being sent back to Milwaukee. Don’t worry. I am willing to bet he will return to Nashville very soon.