Nashville Predators Need to Add a Depth Defenseman before Deadline

Nashville Predators players celebrate after left wing Filip Forsberg (9) scores a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators players celebrate after left wing Filip Forsberg (9) scores a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators find themselves struggling with depth on the blue line, a struggle incredibly unfamiliar to the organization in recent years.

The team’s top two defensive pairs and Matt Benning have been strong this season, but Philippe Myers, Mark Borowiecki and Ben Harpur should not be part of the Nashville Predators’ typical lineup.

The three defensemen have all negatively contributed to the Predators this season, each in their own ways. As the playoff race continues to heat up, the Predators find themselves in a tough spot as the teams around them in the standings have much better depth defensemen and will likely add more before the deadline.

This is all to say that GM David Poile needs to seriously consider adding a defenseman or two before the trade deadline, which is less than a week away. It’s a tricky situation for the Predators to decide how they want to approach the trade deadline, as Chad Minton writes.

Nashville Predators are untrustworthy in their defensive depth

Playoff quality defensive depth has plagued the Nashville Predators for several seasons now. You need a complete defensive core to go deep in the playoffs, and there’s still a lot of work to do to even make the playoffs as the Predators are just five points ahead of Dallas from being on the outside looking in

Let’s first start with Myers when looking at their current defensive depth behind the top two pairings. Myers has been severely disappointing for the Predators. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound defenseman is in his first season with the Preds after being acquired over the summer in a trade that saw Ryan Ellis head to Philadelphia.

Myers has provided essentially no offense. According to, Myers has missed the net on just under 40 percent of shot attempts that weren’t blocked, which is fourth-worst among all NHL defensemen with over 300 minutes played this season.

The average defenseman misses the net on an unblocked shot between 24 and 30 percent of the time, which is considerably less than Myers.

Myers also hasn’t created a single rebound this season. When your shot isn’t blocked, it is imperative that it hits the net, resulting in either a goal, a rebound or in the worst case a save and offensive zone faceoff.

All three of these things, mostly goals and rebounds, are extremely beneficial in driving offense and creating chances compared to missing the net. When you’re shooting from the point and the shot is kept low it will allow for a chance of a deflection or a rebound to pop out.

Those rebounds would possibly even help the Predators in the goal scoring department, which has been a bit of a struggle this season, although they remain in the top half of the league. They could be much better.

For a defenseman who brings so little to the table offensively, you would expect large defensive contributions, but with Myers, that is not the case as his defensive statistics are similarly poor. Per, the defenseman ranks 131st in the NHL in hits, and has only blocked 16 shots, which is the 4th-lowest among defensemen 300-plus minutes played.

The Predators can try to move Myers this summer (or at the Trade Deadline) but in the interim, he needs to be in the press box if the Predators are serious about making the playoffs.

Boro isn’t an everyday starter

Of the three defensemen mentioned here, Borowiecki has brought the most to the table, but it isn’t enough for him to be on the ice night in and night out.

Per, like Myers, Borowiecki has not generated a single rebound this season.

However, unlike Myers, Borowiecki plays a physical game, which is shown with his 143 hits, which is 12th among NHL defensemen. This level of physicality has helped Nashville plenty, but also hurt them. He has accumulated 63 penalty minutes this season, which is the 3rd most among all NHL defensemen.

The large number of penalties that he takes is not going to help the Predators in their journey for a playoff berth. The Predators’ penalty kill is very middle of the road at 15th in the NHL, which is certainly not something the Predators can continue to unnecessarily put to the test as the team seeks a postseason berth.

Although Borowiecki’s defensive metrics are much better than Myers’, the defenseman struggles tremendously at creating offense. According to, Borowiecki has missed the net on 36.4% of shot attempts that aren’t blocked, which is the 25th-worst among all NHL defensemen with over 300 minutes played this season.

In addition to that, Borowiecki hasn’t scored a goal in his 42 games this season, or in the 21 he played with the Preds last season. Success for a defenseman of Borowiecki’s style is not measured by goal scoring, but not scoring a single one in two seasons certainly is below average for any defenseman.

The Nashville Predators need to weigh out the pros and cons of Borowiecki’s style of play. Once the playoffs begin and the refs put their whistles in their pockets, then I would consider playing him more frequently as he will get called for less and be able to play like himself without getting called for a penalty in every game. Until then, the Predators need to play it safe and keep him sidelined.

Harpur isn’t NHL caliber

Simply put, Ben Harpur isn’t an NHL calibre defenseman. He got a shot in the league with Ottawa who was going through a rebuild when he was a mainstay on the blueline. Harpur played 34 games with the Preds during the shortened 2020-21 season after spending the previous season in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies and then the Milwaukee Admirals.

Harpur is currently in the Predators lineup due to an injury to Borowiecki, but the fact that Harpur is one of the top options when a defenseman is injured is detrimental.

Harpur’s sample size this season is small. He has played in 13 games this season, and in those 13 games, he has turned the puck over six times, all coming in the defensive zone.

Averaging a turnover every other game isn’t horrible, but averaging a turnover in the defensive zone every other game is. If a player has a large offensive output, these turnovers can be masked or overlooked, but Harpur doesn’t produce any offense.

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This season, over 55 percent of his shot attempts that weren’t blocked have missed the net, which means eight shots out of his 22 attempts hit the net, four got blocked and 10 missed the net. This percentage is the second-worst in all NHL defensemen with over 100 minutes played this season.

The trade deadline is just six days away, which means the Predators have a decision to make regarding the current ‘D Core’. If the Predators are interested in making the playoffs and potentially a playoff run, Myers and Harpur can’t touch the ice for the remainder of the season (and should be moved on from this summer) and Borowiecki needs to be an option only if there are defensemen out with injuries.

If Poile is more comfortable riding the season out with the current roster and having the chips fall where they may, then that means the defense still needs to be addressed in the summer.