Hockey can change quickly both in the game and in the season, and that’s certainly happening right now for the Nashville Predators.
Less than three weeks ago, and before the franchise record road trip, the Predators were perceived to be heavy sellers and be lucky to finish ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for last place in the division.
Now the narrative has suddenly flipped, and there’s even some out there than think buying is an option. I’m definitely not going that far, but I do think the Predators have reassess what they’re going to do before the trade deadline after winning five of their last six that started off by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on March 15.
But let’s please keep things in perspective here. Before this hot streak, the Predators were plummeting as they lost six of seven. So these things can change out of nowhere, and the Predators are riding that wave.
First thing we have to do is look at the players who are still viable options to trade, even if the Predators are all in to make a push for the playoffs.
Top Options for the Nashville Predators to trade away
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Granlund holds a lot of value despite him never really reaching the potential we hoped he would when the trade was originally made that saw the Predators deal Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the main team being linked to Granlund, per Frank Seravalli of TSN. They’re definitely one of those teams you can consider as “one piece away” and would love to add a offensively skilled player like Granlund.
In return the Predators could do well with a Granlund trade to Toronto. They should be able to acquire some decent future assets, and even a 2021 first-round draft pick from Toronto in this possible deal.
Toronto’s GM, Kyle Dubas, has already made it clear he’s open to trading away a first-round pick and top prospects. The Predators should absolutely be inquiring with the Maple Leafs at this point:
I would take that deal and run with it if I’m Predators GM David Poile. It’s all about investing in the long-term future and making this rebuild, whether it’s a light or heavy one, as quick as possible.
Ekholm is another trade piece that the Predators should still be entertaining. I understand that this proposition makes people weary because there’s still that glimmer of hope that the Predators make the playoffs and recapture the same lightning in a bottle that they captured in 2017.
Losing a veteran blueliner like Ekholm might squash those efforts some, but not entirely.
The Predators could arguably get an even better return for Ekholm than they would for Granlund at this point. A starter or two, a draft pick and even a top prospect isn’t out of the question for a player like Ekholm.
Those are the two main players that seem most likely to getting dealt in the next week or so. However, I don’t see a heavy sell-off by the Predators that seemed to be all but certain just two weeks ago.
Calle Jarnkrok shouldn’t be lost in all of these trade possibilities, either. Another player who has their stock soaring, although I’d prefer to see the Predators retain him if possible.
Other small pieces you can move
These three players were offseason acquisitions that weren’t signed to long-term contracts and should be able to be moved rather easily. If you can acquire some future assets and draft picks for these three players, I say go for it. And it really wouldn’t hurt the team that bad as far as remaining competitive.
I will say that Haula has elevated his game recently, but I’m just not tied to him long-term for the Predators.
Obviously the young core shouldn’t be touched at all as they’re the future of this team and a big reason why the Predators even have a chance to sneak into the playoffs. With their surge into playing valuable NHL minutes and not being liabilities, suddenly the future doesn’t look all that bad for this team.
I don’t see a way that Matt Duchene is moved due to his contract. A lot of people would love to move on from Duchene, but I see his future remaining here in Nashville at least for another full season.
Ryan Ellis has also been brought up, but again I I don’t expect the Predators to move on from him. Having Ellis and Roman Josi remain you top-two defenseman will be critical as the Predators move forward into more normal times in 2021-22.
So even though the Predators are showing a lot of fight and making things interesting, they shouldn’t suddenly become buyers. They should still look to sell some pieces off and get stronger for the future.
If in return the Predators continue to stay competitive and remain in the playoff hunt, then that will just be added bonus for all of us. It will most likely mean the youth is remaining at a high level and that the goaltending duo of Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne is staying hot.