As the NHL Trade Deadline sits just five days away, the Nashville Predators are a team that very well could end up being active buyers as they sit in third place in the tightly-packed Central Division.
With the Predators still actively trying to re-sign Filip Forsberg before the deadline, they’re also a team that has some weaknesses that keeps them from being anything more than another first round playoff exit again.
More and more it’s looking like the Nashville Predators should consider adding to their defensive depth as many of their problems in their losses have been thanks to defensive breakdowns that have left Juuse Saros in difficult save situations, or leading to trips to the penalty box.
Who can the Nashville Predators add for their defensive core?
It’s really becoming clear that the depth on the defensive end is razor thin, as contributing wrter Clayton Garnier wrote earlier this week in regards to players like Philippe Myers, Ben Harpur and Mark Borowiecki as not being reliable playoff defensemen.
Looking at the trade market and which defensemen the Nashville Predators can target to fill this need, no player jumps out more to me than Calvin de Haan of the Chicago Blackhawks. A prototypical defensive defenseman that will play in the dirty areas, protect his goaltender and shore up the third pairing for the Predators.
De Haan is about to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and the Blackhawks have completely fallen flat, giving them no logical reason to hold onto de Haan. This is why de Haan is all over the trade market and will likely land somewhere new by Monday.
The Predators are a perfect fit for de Haan’s defensive style of play. They could definitely use an upgrade to their defensive core, and the Blackhawks asking price shouldn’t be all that steep.
Per the Chicago Sun Times, the Blackahwks would like a second or third-round pick for de Haan. You wouldn’t even have to offer any of your coveted prospects for de Haan’s services, and it really wouldn’t shake up your lineup that’s really starting to build it’s chemistry in the push for the playoffs.
Slowing down the rebuild, or retooling if you will, of the Predators is what gives people pause about being buyers at the deadline. Well, you don’t really have that problem with shopping for de Haan.
Aside from de Haan, Justin Braun of the Philadelphia Flyers is a decent Plan B to address this same area of need and also wouldn’t be expensive at all.
De Haan would be an inexpensive upgrade
It’s not so much that Borowiecki has been horrendous, but if you’re really trying to maximize your ptoential in the playoffs by making an addition or two at the trade deadline, then you can certainly upgrade from Borowiecki or any of the other interchangeable defensemen on the third pairing.
De Haan’s defensive numbers are some of the best in the NHL among defensemen in all situations, per MoneyPuck.com. Most notably, he’s third in blocked shots with 140 and third in shost blocked/60 minutes played with just under eight.
For comparison, the next-closest Predators player in blocked shots is Josi with 96, good for 38th among defensemen. Borowiecki is the team leader in shots blocked per 60 minutes at 5.97.
And it’s not like de Haan is getting minimal ice time for the Blackhawks. He’s at 1,058 minutes of total ice time, good for the top-100 among defensemen and more than Dante Fabbro who is a regular on the Predators’ second pairing.
Additionally, de Haan can also offer the Predators penalty kill value, which we all are fully aware of how the Predators love to pile up the penalties. I don’t see that trend reversing anytime soon, so you might as well do what you can to bolster those unit. De Haan would be a quality addition to the penalty kill unit.
De Haan’s salary cap hit is relatively low, especially consdering there’s been chatter that Chicago would retain 50 percent of his salary. So the risk for Nashville would be low in return for adding a high quality defensive-first defenseman that are so valuable in a grueling playoff series.
Now the question is would Chicago be willing to trade within the division when there will probably be other suitors for de Haan outside of the division that would probably make more sense for the Blackhawks front office.
I’m not on board with the Nashville Predators going crazy on the open trade market, offering up coveted prospects and bunch of draft picks for what could just end up being a rental player that gets them nowhere far in the playoffs anyway.
However, a player like de Haan would not only upgrade your defensive core for the playoff push and beyond, but hopefully stick around as a re-signable player in the offseason. Pair him with Matt Benning, and have Borowiecki as first off the bench if needed.
This addition would effectively take Harpur out of the lineup almost certainly, and only call on Myers if a rash of unfortunate injuries occur.
Again, a player like de Haan deepens your defensive depth in the likely case that you lose a current starting defenseman to injury and have to dig deeper into you lineup.
If Chicago is willing to listen to Nashville as a trade partner for de Haan, I say go for it if you’re GM David Poile. It would be a great fit and not risky like many of the other trade options out there.