The regular season is creeping up on us as the Nashville Predators come in with what many think is an upgraded roster from last season which ended once again in first round heartbreak.
The Predators must be pleased with the team they have, but there are still a few players who could become expendable and trade bait as the season unfolds and if the team is contending to add one more significant piece.
There’s only a few untouchable players on this roster that the Predators would never consider trading at this time, but for the most part any player is capable of being traded unless they have a No Move Clause.
Here’s my short list of the three most tradeable players for the Nashville Predators as the 2022-23 regular season is about a month away.
1. Eeli Tolvanen
The patience has to be wearing thin on Eeli Tolvanen‘s progression into a high end offensive playmaker. Yes, he has other skills that benefit the team, but not to the level that was originally hoped for.
It’s not even entirely clear where Tolvanen will be placed in the starting lineup, but a dwindled down fourth line role looks likely. That’s a demotion for a player that by this point had high hopes to be scoring over 20 goals per season and a huge power play weapon.
Tolvanen had just one power play goal, and 11 goals overall, last season in 75 games. Just not going to get it done if that’s the norm. However, there’s still a chance he blossoms this year. Even then, the Predators will have to think about trading him as his value will go up.
For reasons of making your team better now, and also to increase his potential trade value, the Predators have to hope Tolvanen gets it together this season and pushes at least around 20 goals and shows more progress in his offensive game.
If Tolvanen struggles similar to how he did last season, his trade value won’t be very high, but there will still be teams interested in him as a project. At that point he would be more of an additional piece of a larger trade package if the Predators were big game hunting for a major player near the trade deadline.
Additionally, Tolvanen would be an easy and low risk contract to take on for most teams. He has just one year left after this season, and he’s relatively cheap at $1.45M AAV. He’s worth taking on as a project thanks to his offensive upside and only being 23-years-old.
2. Dante Fabbro
A player that’s in a similar situation to Tolvanen is Dante Fabbro. People often times forget how young Fabbro is because he jumped into an elevated role for the Predators at age 20. He just turned 24 and perhaps the Ryan McDonagh addition sends a signal from the front office that they’re losing confidence in him.
Fabbro’s offensive game hasn’t really panned out for him to be a top-four defenseman, and he’s also be known to make some critical mistakes that has made him a bit untrustworthy in big moments.
With that said, much like Tolvanen, Fabbro is still young and there are other teams out there who would be willing to take a chance on him due to his age.
Fabbro’s current contract is interesting because he will be an RFA after this season. So the receiving team in a potential trade could have some leverage to keep him around if they like what he brings at a reasonable price.
I just don’t see how the Predators in the long-term keep Fabbro around if he’s just going to be a third pairing defenseman. There are prospects who are continuing to develop that will be ready to eventually get an NHL opportunity, and Fabbro is just creating a logjam at that point for a potential younger player with more upside.
It won’t be surprising in the slightest if Fabbro is traded at some point before the trade deadline reaches this season. All it takes is one team that’s defensively deprived that will take on a 24-year-old defenseman that still does many things well, and has the potential to improve over time into his prime years.
3. Connor Ingram
Ingram has capped out his development in the AHL in my humble opinion. He should be dominant again at that level this coming season, and there are plenty of desperate teams at goaltender who would love to take on Ingram’s services.
All you have to do is put on the tape of Ingram nearly stealing Game 2 of the first round matchup with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche to entice teams to trade for him.
Just like Tolvanen and Fabbro, Ingram is young and has upside which is appealing to a lot of teams who might think this player just needs a change of scenery. And once again we’re talking about a player that’s going to be a RFA like Fabbro will be.
The only way I can see Ingram not being tradeable is if Lankinen just completely falls apart in his backup role and the team feels it necessary to finally invest in Ingram on the NHL level. That would take some contract negotiations next offseason, but I think Ingram would love to stay here as the backup to Saros.
On the flip side, if Lankinen proves to be a worthy backup then the Predators might find Ingram as expendable nearing the trade deadline and offer him up for another forward or defenseman that can boost their roster during the late season push for the postseason.
Honorable Mention for Tradeable Player by the Nashville Predators
Let’s look at it from the other end of the spectrum if the Nashville Predators are sellers at the deadline. The three on my list are in the case of the Predators contending and being buyers at the deadline.
If the Predators hit disaster and decide to be sellers, first of all Head Coach John Hynes will be back on that hot seat. Secondly, the Predators will have to start thinking about maybe finding suitors for Ryan Johansen.
Johansen’s once perceived immovable contract is getting shorter and not as difficult to take on with two years left after this. However, the Predators would almost certainly have to retain some of that $8M salary to facilitate a trade.
Or perhaps Johansen is playing well and it’s not on him that the team is falling apart. Individually he might be playing well enough to boost his own value, and the Predators could get more out of him. That’s obviously a worst case scenario type of thing if that happens.
Michael McCarron is another player who I would be actively looking for trade partners even if the return is is something small like a mid round draft pick. I just don’t see a place for him on this roster, so you might as well try to move him for something.
Overall the Nashville Predators have to be confident in what they have going into 2022-23, so the trade bait list is pretty short. However, the odds are high that one of the three of Fabbro, Tolvanen or Ingram could easily be traded at some point before the trade deadline in March.