Nashville Predators are Gradually Becoming Trade Deadline Buyers Again

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been a couple seasons since it’s felt like the Nashville Predators have the roster for success in the playoffs again, but that narrative of competitive rebuilding is evaporating with each win.

The Predators are starting to take notice around the league as not only a viable playoff contender, but even a team that can win a series or two. After all, they do have the most points in the Western Conference alongside the juggernaut Colorado Avalanche as we near the midway point of the regular season. That has to count for something.

Is there any reason to think this first half of the season is a fluke from the Nashville Predators? I don’t think so, and if anything, it’s proof that most of us drastically undervalued the core veterans of the roster having bounce-back seasons.

Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, and Mikael Granlund are three veterans in particular who didn’t play up to their maximum potentials over the past two seasons, leaving the Predators as an underperforming and painfully average team at best. They don’t look that way anymore.

Now that those three players have really stepped up their games, the roster looks much more complete with your more reliable stars like Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi and of course Juuse Saros in net, all contributing in big ways.

But what has really made this Predators team so impressive over the first half of the season is the development in their younger players. It’s made the Predators a team with quality depth on all four lines, and that spells success in the playoffs usually.

Is this all enough to do more than just another first round playoff exit? In a season that was billed as a rebuild, losing in the first round again wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, it’s totally fair to want more now that we see what this team is capable of.

Should the Nashville Predators be buyers again?

Now the question of what the trade deadline strategy will be for the Nashville Predators will start to grow.

We’re coming up on just two months shy of the March 21 NHL trade deadline, and you should expect General Manager David Poile to be enticed to be a buyer, which might scare some of you.

It’s all about winning Stanley Cups ultimately, right? Yes, you don’t want to mortgage your future for a rental player that may or may not get you further in the playoffs, but you also have to be aggressive when you know you have a roster that’s just a piece or two away from really doing something special.

The Predators appear to have a roster that could just be missing one or two additions to bolster this roster into a dangerous one in the playoffs. Will that urge be too much to resist for Poile, or will he choose to take his chances with the roster he has?

A lot of this depends on two months worth of games and if the Predators remain at the top, or at least near the top, of the division. If they’re competing for a division crown, then it seems likely that Poile is aggressive at the trade deadline.

Even if the Predators cool off and slip back a bit in the standings, they should still be cautious buyers to remain in the playoff hunt. Simply put, they’re almost certainly going to be buyers and not sellers this year.

As nervous as it makes me of Poile getting too aggressive in his buying at the deadline, I can’t get on board with just doing nothing at all. The Predators have themselves an unexpected surprise season going, and they shouldn’t waste the opportunity to make a deep playoff run.

Players the Nashville Predators could target at the Trade Deadline

So who are some intriguing players who could be available that would make sense for the Predators to target? An offensive scoring winger is always something the Predators seem they could use more of, but bolstering up the defensive depth with an offensive-minded defenseman also isn’t a bad idea to look into.

One player that’s really catching the attention around the league is defenseman John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars. Klingberg has become displeased with his situation in Dallas, and the team is looing to trade him, per a report from SportsNet:

Would the Stars trade Klingberg to a Central Division rival in the Predators? I have my doubts, but Klingberg would be a strong addition to a Predators defensive unit that could use some offensive bolstering and veteran presence behind Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm.

Klingberg might very well end up being a postseason rental before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Not sure he’s the right fit for a growing Predators team that still has to find a way to pay Forsberg in the offseason.

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Let’s go ahead and resist the urge of wanting the Predators to swing for the fences for a major acquisition like Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, who is the top trade target in Frank Seravalli’s rankings on Daily Faceoff. 

Hertl is the top prize of the market, but I’m not sure the Predators are in a position to offer up what it’s going to take to acquire a player that has a chance for 40-plus goals this season.

Jake DeBrusk of the Boston Bruins is a more conservative choice and an option that should intrigue Predators fans. A rising 25-year-old winger that just needs a change of scenery to flourish. He’s had an underwhelming last two seasons, but is formerly a 27-goal scorer in his second NHL season.

DeBrusk would be an outstanding addition to the Predators depth if the trade would makes sense. I wouldn’t offer much more than a draft pick and a starter for DeBrusk, but he is a player that should still have his best years ahead of him once he lands in a new situation.

It’s unclear if the Bruins and DeBrusk will eventually work things out, but all signs point to an eventual trade before the deadline. The Predators should at least window shop here.

There’s another winger that has me mildly interested and wouldn’t be all that expensive, and that’s Lawson Crouse. The Arizona Coyotes are obviously in complete rip apart mode, and Crouse is a mid-level scorer that would be beneficial to a Predators playoff roster.

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Crouse is on the cheap end, but his return could be great for a postseason run. He’s arguably the most intriguing trade target for the Predators and what they can realistically add without messing up what they’re building for the long-term future.

As long as the Nashville Predators keep winning and hanging around the top of the division, expect the trend of being buyers to grow. Like it or not, Poile is probably building that shopping list as we speak.