What do you do if you’re Nashville Predators GM David Poile right now as the team continues to hang in the playoff race, but is also likely not a deep enough team to make a signifcant run in the postseason?
The NHL Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away, and the Predators are one of those teams that you would think will be buyers to try to boost their roster, but with that comes significant risks for a team that many thought needed a big rebuild before the season started. It could still end up being that way if yet another first round playoff exit ends up happening.
The Predators could honestly use a boost in two areas; they could certainly use another quality veteran defenseman to give them stability down the stretch. There have been times when this area has been their undoing in important games.
On the other hand, this Nashville Predators team also doesn’t have deep enough scoring threats throughout their lineup for me to consider them for pulling off an upset over the top-tier Western Conference teams.
So which direction will Poile decide to go? The urge to sign a major name and give up some significant assets might be too much for him to resist as March 21 is creeping up.
Nashville Predators should seek another defenseman
The safest and most logical route seems to be looking for a veteran defenseman to shore up the core. Someone steady and trustworthy to make the right decisions in crunch time, and one that might not be all that expensive, either.
A right-handed defenseman is what the Predators should be looking for on the trade market. Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff has some interesting names on his trade target board, but they all come with a price and are likely rentals.
You look at big names like John Klingberg, Mark Giordano and Jakob Chychrun and they’re not only extremely expensive additions, but also not really fits for the Nashville Predators. They need defensive depth and some extra offensive punch behind their top two pairings.
Damon Severson, the 27-year-old defenseman for the New Jersey Devils, sparks my interest because he brings offensive upside to the table and may not be just a rental when it’s all said and done. Not overly expensive, and you would hope still has many years of productive hockey left.
Justin Braun is hanging around as a veteran defenseman that won’t break the bank at all, but would bring you a little more stability for the bottom defensive pairing. However, he’s not bringing you anything you probably don’t already have with Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning, so what’s the point unless you just want purely more experience.
I just don’t see a ton of defensmen out there that will really make a huge impact on the team. There are more bold moves to inquire about at winger, but with that it also gets signficantly more risky.
No doubt about it, the Nashville Predators need more scoring
I’ve said many times this season that the Nashville Predators just don’t have enough top-end pure goal scorers to take them serious in a seven-game playoff series against the cream of the crop in the Western Conference.
However, if they were to add a legimate, clutch goal scorers to join Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene then it would give them a three-pronged attack offenisvely. That’s not even mentioning the growth of Tanner Jeannot and Yakov Trenin as depth scorers, and Roman Josi having a career year in points production.
For the Predators to be major contenders, and do the proverbial “go all in” for this season, then it would be by adding a big time scoring winger.
First up in this department is Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have done what they could to hang in the playoff race, but with a few highly valuable trade pieces, they look like they’re going to be a major seller.
Boeser would be an instant boost to the Predators on the power play and in the top-six. You’d likely have to part ways with a first round draft pick, and a quality young player and/or prospect. It’s going to cost you, but in the short term could give you just enough to make some noise in the playoffs.
The talks are heating up for Boeser, and it would be an obvious fit for the Predators who sit in the middle of the pack in scoring per game at just over three per game:
This is shooting for the fences, but it’s worth keeping your eye on. In the end I don’t think Boeser ends up in Nashville, but would it get this team some national hype again? It sure would.
A more reasonable possiblity and one I would be all on board with is Phil Kessell. Much cheaper, less of a risk, but still a veteran who can bring you a ton of value in the goal scoring department. Also just the overall leadership aspect and quality playoff experience would be invaluable.
Kessell would ignite the fanbase and locker room, and he wouldn’t come at a steep price. Offer a couple mid-round draft picks and retain a chunk of his salary. Maybe a mid-tier prospect to sweeten the deal for the full-on rebuilding Coyotes.
Kessell would fit into a third line role and it would be fun to watch him play with Jeannot and Trenin.
There’s another former prolific goal scorer who might just need a change of scenery, and that’s Max Domi. He’d be a major boost to the Predators’ scoring punch as well, and could even be slotted in a second line role.
I’d be willing to part ways with Luke Kunin in a trade plus a draft pick if it meant adding Domi to the mix in the top-six role. Again, this is probably far-fetched, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility as the Blue Jackets look like for sure sellers.
Simply put, everyone has a different outlook on this season surrounding the Nashville Predators. Some understandbly think the Predators should just play it safe and roll the dice with the core they already have. However, if they do that I think they’re destined for another first round exit, which would be their fourth-straight season doing that.
If they make a major addition, particularly at wing, then they’ll at least be elevating their chances of going on a late season run and accomplishing a hot streak like they did in 2017. Why not do everything you can to win now?
Poile is also in a lose-lose situation. If he does nothing and they fall short, the critics will be out in full force with the pitchforks for him not being more aggressive. If he gets aggressive and the player doesn’t deliver, then they’ll also be ready to burn him at the stake.
Tough life of a NHL general manager, but let’s get our popcorn and see how it unfolds. I say go for it and let the chips fall where they may.