Unless the Nashville Predators somehow string together five or six wins in a row and start beating top teams in the division like Tampa Bay, then they should be heavy sellers at the trade deadline.
The NHL trade deadline is just under two months away on April 12, and the complications of this season and having to reschedule games is going to make this time period a tricky one for general managers to navigate through.
With that said, the Predators have to start thinking long and hard about their long-term future and realize they’re nowhere close to the team that went the Stanley Cup in 2017, or even the team that won the President’s Trophy the following season.
Let’s be realistic about the Nashville Predators
If the Predators dramatically turn things around, I’ll be the first to say I was completely wrong and be happy to put it our there for everyone to see. But I just don’t see that happening.
The Predators have to get the most out of the players they have who still have some trade value to contending teams, while also being suitors for younger players who have bright futures.
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That’s the road map that I have for the Predators, and it will be rocky one. It’s going to mean them almost certainly missing the playoffs this season, and possibly the next season as well.
The Predators have been kicking the can down the road since the Stanley Cup run hoping that they can put it all together one more time with a core group of players. They’ve also made some questionable long-term signings since then that have put GM David Poile under scrutiny.
I’m still of the belief that Duchene has a future here, whether we like it or not. However, Johansen looks like a likely piece that might be moved at the trade deadline. Another team could see his skill level and veteran intangibles and try to make it work.
If that happens, I’m all over it if I’m running the Predators’ front office. Get the maximum value and begin thinking long-term with a prospect pool that’s gradually strengthening.
Other trade pieces are Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok and even Viktor Arvidsson. That’s hard to say because these players have been such vital parts of the team for so long, but eventually you have to let go and realize the future hangs in the balance.
Aside from those players, every player on this team should be considered possible trade pieces if the right offer comes along that includes draft picks and offensive upside.
Stop delaying the inevitable
The Predators can’t afford to be stagnate at the deadline and risk becoming a doormat team for several years to come. If that were to happen, the rebuild would be that much more painful and ongoing.
Them becoming sellers doesn’t mean they can’t acquire some nice, young pieces with upside through a trade. I would like to see the Predators start restocking on forwards who bring offensive upside.
Acquiring extra draft picks is also a likely scenario if the Predators end up becoming heavy sellers at the trade deadline. I’m all for it, especially if it means getting out from under another long-term contract that’s not bearing any rewards.
The cold, hard truth is the Predators aren’t a deep playoff contender. Could they somehow go in a hot streak and get into the playoffs? Sure, it could definitely happen. But what happens then? Then they possibly leave themselves stuck with the same problem going into 2021-22 of having a lot of highly paid players who aren’t living up to their contracts.
It would be a heavy risk for the Predators to push past the trade deadline without dealing out one or two big contracts. Even if the Predators do sneak into the playoffs by not selling at the deadline, they would be rolling the dice that the same thing is going to happen in the playoffs that happened in 2017.
As for Poile, many think his long time as general manager of the Predators is coming to an end on a sour note. Nick Kayal of 104.5 The Zone in Nashville is looking for a “soft landing” for Poile:
In regards to that thought, I agree that Poile hopefully will go out gracefully and we can all remember the enormous amounts of success he brought to the Predators organization.
Maybe Poile can go out with some smart moves that help this franchise get through the rebuild quicker based on how he manages this trade deadline.
At some point this franchise has to realize that a rebuild is inevitable, and pushing it further down the road so that maybe they can make the playoffs one more time with this core group just doesn’t seem worth it to me.
I’m willing to live with the consequences of losing games and missing the playoffs if it means the youth movement finally happens and there’s an investment in the long-term future.
I hope the Predators prove me wrong and go on a winning streak and shock the NHL landscape. Unfortunately, I see a heavy sell-off coming at April’s deadline.