The Nashville Predators’ leadership has long been considered one of the best in the NHL. But recent transactions are leaving some scratching their heads.
There has been a change in philosophy with the Nashville Predators this year. After making it the to Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history last season, expectations changed from being competitive to contending for the Cup. This change started with the excitement surrounding the teams’ run last year, reverberating through Smashville now.
Such a change can generate great pressure, producing stress and confusion. After recent transactions completed by the Predators, fans are left only to hope the moves fulfill the team’s goal. They could be the right moves, or maybe they are reactionary to the current status of the Western conference. Pressure can cause such responses.
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There is no doubt that David Poile is one of the best General Managers in all of sports, not just the NHL. For 20 years, he has completed moves to build the Nashville Predators into a successful hockey franchise. He also took steps necessary to educator the city about the game of hockey. Now, to the chagrin of fans from other teams, the Nashville Predators are one of the best franchises and fan-bases in professional athletics.
Cracks in the armor
Typically, I subscribe to the message produced by Poile and the team. The evidence is there to support he knows what he is doing. Yet, today I find myself questioning recent moves.
Yesterday while driving around town, I listened to a bit of “Jared and the GM” on 102.5 the Game. This is not my normal listening choice but with the news about Mike Fisher returning to the Predators, I knew they would spend a good deal of time discussing the Predators. To me, host Jared Stillman specializes in hot-takes that border on the ridiculous or fanatical, attempting to get a reaction out of listeners. But he mentioned something yesterday that made me think.
Did Poile believe enforcer Cody McLeod was going to clear waivers? If no team laid claim to McLeod, the Predators could send him to Milwaukee and recall him to the team when rosters expand after the trade deadline. While I am not a fan McLeod, as he brought little value to the team, I wondered why the move was made. Little value was better than no value, right?
This move is followed by recruiting Mike Fisher to return. While he has not played meaningful hockey since last year, and admitted to not working out a great deal while retired, the acquisition of Fisher is a cost-saving move. No trade is needed nor does the team need to commit long-term. Still, the press conference reeked of desperation. It was clear the Nashville Predators needed scoring help, and they started looking in December. But limited cap space handcuffed Poile from making a large trade that could require a long-term contract. Another Kyle Turris trade was not happening.
Maybe this all works out. It is possible the moves were the exact right moves for the team. But, maybe not. The reaction from fans regarding Fisher’s return is overwhelmingly positive. As it should be. Questions remain on when he will take the ice in game action. He has until February 26. After that, he would not be allowed to play in the postseason. I do not question Fisher’s ability whatsoever.
What happens to the rest of the roster? Does Fisher become center for the fourth line? If so, does Colton Sisson move to winger with a rotation or Pontus Aberg and Austin Watson on the other side? Who gets sent down? Certainly not Kevin Fiala, for obvious reasons. But he is the Predators’ only waiver-exempt skater. Aberg must clear waivers, and he won’t. And, the team has to carry two goalies, so Juuse Saros is safe.
There are only two options outside of chancing waivers. First, a player becomes injured and goes on injured reserve, opening a spot before February 26. The other option is to send someone down to Milwaukee on a conditioning assignment.
Either way, the recent moves appear outside of Poile typical genius. Fingers-crossed that it all works out in the end.