Nashville Predators: Looking Back at the 2019 Trade for Mikael Granlund

Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Hindsight is always the name of the game when looking back at past trades that your beloved NHL team has made, and the Nashville Predators are no different even in their short history.

With this piece I’m going to look back at the in-season trade for Mikael Granlund back in February 2019. A time when Stanley Cup aspirations were still very strong and real.

This was a pretty significant trade at the time because the Nashville Predators parted aways with arguably one of their best drafted forwards in team history in Kevin Fiala. It was a bold trade to make, and unfortunately didn’t bring positive results early on.

For a frame of reference in case you forgot, when this trade occured the team was obviously “all in” for a Stanley Cup. They were 37-23-5 on the season, and would eventually win the Central Division title hitting 100 points.

Early results were underwhelming for Nashville Predators and Granlund

At the time my thoughts were it was a good swap for both parties involved. The Predators were getting a saavy and gifted offensive players who had back-to-back 60-plus point seasons. He was going to come in and fill the vital top-six center role that the team needed.

Granlund would struggle to find his place within the Predators system for the remainder of that 2018-19 regular season managing just five points in 16 games. He had put up 49 points that season for the Wild before the trade.

Then the nightmare 2019 first round matchup with the Dallas Stars comes, and Granlund is also a non-factor with just a goal and an assist in six games. You traded Granlund to make you a more viable playoff team, and instead the team gets bounced in the first round after winning the Presidents Trophy the year before. Yikes.

The Wild on the other hand were getting a much younger player with a higher ceiling by acquiring Fiala. The catch was, Fiala was higher on the risk scale than Granlund was for the Predators.

The Predators were however taking on a much larger salary for Granlund at $5.75M during that season.

Granlund would go on to re-sign for a one-year deal worth just $3.75M, which actually turned out to be quite the bargain for the Predators front office. This past offseason the organization did him right by upping Granlund to a four-year deal worth $5M AAV.

A worthy pay raise, and still a bargain, for a player that now sits third all time for assists in a single season with 53, only trailing Paul Kariya and Roman Josi.

Who won the Fiala/Granlund trade?

It’s not as rosy for the Wild as they decided to trade Fiala this past offseason to the LA Kings. This trade shocked me to a degree because I still feel that Fiala can blossom into an elite scorer. He has all the raw talent and tools to do so, but the Wild obviously were ready to move on.

Fiala now can hit the refresh button for a rising team through the Western Conference ranks. Watch out for the Kings next year, by the way. They have methodically been getting better and better over the years.

What makes this trade really odd is Fiala by far reached his full potential this past season hitting 85 points, crushing his career high by 31 points set in his first full season with Minnesota.

Fiala is now a signficantly higher paid player than Granlund by making close to $8M per year that includes a modified No Trade Clause later in the contract. The guy got paid, while Granlund continues to be somewhat of a bargain for the Predators.

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So in the end, Fiala still clearly has the higher ceiling and all the Wild acquired in the trade with the Kings was a first round pick and an AHL player. Difficult pill to swallow, while the Predators still have their vital piece to the top-six in Granlund.

It took time to get these results, and early on it looked like the Wild were clear winners in this trade and the Predators jumped the gun by bailing on the young Fiala. This is a perfect example of why you don’t claim victors in trades too early because it usually takes a couple seasons at least.

However, the Nashville Predators came out as resounding winners of this trade because they still have their trade piece at a team friendly price, while the Wild are scrambling to stay in the playoff picture this coming season.