The highly-anticipated NHL trade deadline is less than a week away, and it’s still not really clear what the Nashville Predators will do.
There’s no clear-cut answer to what the Nashville Predators and GM David Poile will decide to do at the trade deadline in six days.
The Predators are right on the doorstep of a playoff spot and currently playing their best hockey since the early goings of the regular season in October.
Poile has some very tough decisions to make as far as what to do with some current players, and if he should target anyone to boost the roster up even more.
Last trade deadline the Predators made a big move in trading Kevin Fiala to Minnesota for Mikael Granlund. One year later and we’re finally starting to see Granlund be the player we thought we were getting originally.
Will they make a similar move this time around, including the possibility of Granlund being one of those players that’s no longer on the team at this time next week?
Staying put with what you have
We have the simple scenario and strategy of just staying the course. Don’t trade anyone or add anyone and forge ahead with what you have.
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A lot of people seem to be leaning towards this strategy, while just a few weeks ago everyone was jumping off a cliff and urging the Predators to be heavy sellers.
The question you obviously have to ask yourself is if you honestly think this current Predators roster is good enough to reach the Western Conference Finals?
That was my personal measuring stick for this team in the preseason. Anything short of reaching the conference finals will be coming up short of preseason expectations.
With Ryan Ellis eventually returning to the lineup, think the Nashville Predators currently have the roster to at least make the playoffs and make things interesting once they get in.
My thing is, it can’t be good enough to just get in. Even considering everything that has happened this season, a simple sixth-straight playoff appearance isn’t nearly enough for me to come away from 2019-20 satisfied.
Add a piece or two?
Then you have the scenario of being a buyer to get you that extra boost that Poile may think this team is lacking. This is most notably directed at the second or third defensive pairing.
However, I will say that Jarred Tinordi has steadily grown on me since becoming a regular in the lineup. He’s not flashy by any means, but I do see steady improvement in his game.
With that said, I’d love to see the Predators explore the market on a blueliner that can add some physicality and defensive prowess to the lineup.
The Predators are 31st in penalty kill percentage, and have been hanging out down there pretty much the entire season.
Alec Martinez of the LA Kings is being thrown around a lot. He’s a Stanley Cup champion ( twice), an excellent penalty killer and will also bring toughness and leadership to the lineup.
I also think he can be attained for a fairly modest price. The Kings need to get what they can out of the veteran who has one more year left on his current deal.
I like the idea of Martinez joining the mix, along with Ellis returning to the defense as well. Suddenly Nashville’s defense gets some balance between scoring threats and solid defenders.
Obviously don’t sell the farm for a player that is past their prime, which Martinez is. But, it’s certainly worth exploring if the right deal comes along.
Check out this awesome piece from Adam Gretz of NBC Sports as he says Martinez to the Predators as making the most sense.
A seller’s market?
Finally, you have the real possibility that Poile decides to part ways with some current players. Granlund and Craig Smith are at the top of the list.
Perfectly enough, both Granlund and Smith are surging right now and raising their value. That also makes for an even tougher decision for Poile.
Do you really want to sell off one or two players that are playing some of the best hockey on the team right now? That could extinguish any fire you’re generating right now for a playoff push.
Granlund is thriving under John Hynes as head coach, while he couldn’t seem to figure it out under Peter Laviolette. He’s suddenly looking like the player the Predators thought they were getting at last year’s trade deadline.
Then you have Smith, a career Nashville Predator. My heart will break if the Predators let him go to a contender, like the Pittsburgh Penguins ( gag).
What they should do
I’m not going to pretend I know the right answer more so than Poile ( obviously), but I’m leaning towards staying the course.
The Predators are finally hitting their peak in the stretch run of the regular season. The table is set for them to cruise into the playoffs, and anything can happen once you get in.
Furthermore, I’ve changed my mind on what to do with Granlund. I personally didn’t see this coming, but Granlund has new life with the Predators and maybe doesn’t need new scenery after all.
Re-sign Granlund in the offseason, and try to work out a deal for Smith as well. In the meantime, keep your roster intact, and only make a move if it means giving up a draft pick or two.
Don’t touch the current roster that’s finally clicking as a unit and playing well. Disrupting the chemistry even further will only make the path to the playoffs even harder.