The final bell is almost here on the NHL trade deadline, and the Nashville Predators are still looking to make their big move. Will anything happen?
The Predators are trying to be the last team standing in the Mark Stone sweepstakes. He’s the last big chip remaining out there that can make the Predators infinitely better and increase their Stanley Cup odds. As they’re currently constructed, I have a hard time believing they have the juice to get past the first or second round.
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Stone would give the Predators another well-rounded winger to bolster their offense. It’s no secret that the Predators have morphed into a one-line team, keeping them from playing anywhere near their top potential. A player like Stone could send a jolt of energy through this team and make the top two lines one of the best in hockey.
There are others that join the Predators in the Stone sweepstakes, most notably the Bruins and Flames. The Jets were previously making a push for Stone, and we all were hoping he would go anywhere but to Winnipeg. They’re most likely out of the running for Stone now as they’ve acquired Kevin Hayes from the Rangers, so let’s breathe a sigh of relief on that one:
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, forward Brendan Lemieux, and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Kevin Hayes.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 25, 2019
What it’s going to take to get Stone
Stone is a rising star and would give the Predators another consistent 20-goal scorer, something they’re sorely lacking right now outside of Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. Kevin Fiala hasn’t panned out, and patience is running thin on a player I thought was the next star. I’ve been wrong on Fiala, but other teams might see value in him. He should most likely be part of any trade package for Stone, or any other big name they may sign.
Another player that could be in a trade package for Stone is Ryan Hartman. Hartman came to Nashville last year at the deadline and has brought some pretty decent returns in his time. However, I don’t see him as part of the long-term future for the Predators. It would be hard to see him go as he’s a hard worker and dazzles in certain moments, but he’s a necessary casualty if it means getting Stone.
Then you have young prospects like Eeli Tolvanen and Alexandre Carrier. At least one of them would have to be included in a package for Stone. Is GM David Poile willing to part ways with key pieces to the future on the possibility of winning now? I’m not sold on that. I think Poile is more content with the current roster than some may think.
A first-round draft pick is necessary as well. I can let a couple draft picks go to get Stone. It may seem like a lot and a high risk to give up so much for one player, but risks are necessary to make the big moves as a GM. The Predators are just one big piece away from being a top contender again for the Stanley Cup. As of now, they aren’t deep enough. Stone being fitted on the second line would make the Predators infinitely better for a deep playoff run.
Will it actually happen?
I hate to be negative, but as time ticks closer towards the deadline, I’m becoming more skeptical. I’m purely speculating, but I’m a believer that Poile doesn’t feel it absolutely necessary to change this current roster up unless a deal falls into his lap. There are so many suitors for Stone that Poile has to compete with. The Senators might be asking for more than Poile is willing to part ways with, most notably his coveted prospects.
Let’s be real for a second. Despite all of the flaws that the Predators are dealing with, they’re still one point behind Winnipeg in the division. Yes, they have played two more games, but it’s a testament to how great this team can be if they find their full potential. We’re somewhat in panic mode because our expectations have gotten so high for this team. We know how great they can be even with the current roster. To find their full potential, this current roster has to show at least some mild improvement on the power play and get some depth scoring.
Another sign that Stone isn’t landing in Nashville is looking at the projected lineup for Monday night’s game with Edmonton. Both Fiala and Hartman are included in those projected lines, and they were on the ice for the morning skate. There are still other options out there, like Wayne Simmonds, Eric Staal or Mikael Granlund. Granlund for Fiala makes the most sense out of those three but I can also see them making no moves at all and moving forward with what they have. One thing we should do is trust Poile and his track record, even though I’d love to see Stone land here.