One of the busiest teams in the NHL might not be done yet as the Nashville Predators are reportedly in the mix for Brett Pesce.
Nashville has made a lot of offseason moves already, and seem to still not be done. Even with an already loaded defensive core, they are supposedly looking into acquiring defenseman Brett Pesce, who has been rumored as a possible cap casualty for the Carolina Hurricanes.
That seems crazy, and even I was slightly taken aback when I first saw the report. If anything, the Nashville Predators might want to subtract from their defensive core, and trading for a 28-year-old guy with one year left on his contract does not seem like a wise use of resources.
It is clearly not something the Predators should do as a straight up acquisition, but they could end up justifying this with the proper moves. It would take a lot of work, but if executed correctly, could end up as a shrewd decision by General Manager Barry Trotz.
Nashville Predators’ asset management would be key in Pesce trade
Pesce himself has always been a very reliable presence for the Hurricanes over the years. His puck-movement and defensive abilities make him consistent everywhere on the ice, so there is no question that the Predators would be trading for a good player.
Furthermore, even though Pesce is at a very reasonable $4.025M. That is tremendous value considering that Tyson Barrie makes $4.5M, which also expires at the end of the 2023-24 season.
But the obvious elephant in the room here is that fitting Pesce into the current defensive core would be difficult at best.
Not even the entire defensive core, just on the right side, which is Pesce’s, there is Barrie, Dante Fabbro, Alexandre Carrier, who just re-signed, and Luke Schenn, who also just signed as a free agent.
And do not forget about Jake Livingstone, who also just re-signed after an impressive showing late last year, and will certainly see ice time at some point in the coming season.
Fabbro once again on the trade block for the Predators?
You can be positive that if the Predators traded for Pesce, they would be parting with one of the above names in the trade. Given the state of their blue line and that the Hurricanes would be shipping off Pesce in a cap dump, Fabbro would almost certainly be going the other way.
While he certainly is not a bad player, Fabbro hasn’t lived up to expectations as a first-round pick, and has almost become excess goods at this point. The Predators are not trading Carrier, Schenn, or Livingstone, and Barrie does nothing to help the Hurricanes’ cap situation.
Even if the Hurricanes were sending Pesce to Nashville in a three-way trade to acquire Erik Karlsson, the San Jose Sharks would likely retain Karlsson’s salary in the deal.
Given that the Sharks would acquire the player traded from the Predators, Barrie is not a viable option, so Fabbro would be collateral damage.
Even though Fabbro signed a contract extension at the latest trade deadline, the recency is hardly a factor when you account for the guys who were just signed. His future with the team has been in limbo for years, so he is the one who makes the most sense to part with in this trade scenario.
Given the Hurricanes’ intentions, they cannot get too greedy in terms of the return, so they would probably get Fabbro, a slightly later draft pick, such as a fourth or fifth round pick, and maybe one more asset.
That in itself is hard to complain about from the Predators’ standpoint.
After a trade for Pesce in which Fabbro is sent off, the Predators would remain having Jeremy Lauzon, Carrier, Barrie, Schenn, and Livingstone who should be a quality additional defensema
That is still a lot of guys, especially when you consider that Spencer Stastney is a quality additional defenseman on the left side, and will surely see some ice time as well.
Someone realistically has to go, and we of course know that it will not be three of the four right-handed guys. Enter Barrie, who quickly became popular among the fanbase after acquiring him at the trade deadline, but is the best and only option here.
For as liked as he has become, every fan who has actually gotten attached to him has made a mistake. He has played well yes, but he is 31 and in the final year of his contract, so he is by no means prioritized as part of the future.
Trading Barrie to free up a spot for Pesce would also be a more cap-efficient move, so it is clear the Predators are best off going that route. They would obviously target a contender as a trade partner, and luckily for them, the Minnesota Wild might be legitimately interested.
Minnesota’s Stanley Cup window is starting to close, and they need all the talent they can get in order to chase the big prize.
Since trading Barrie is the only way the Predators could make a Pesce trade work, they would not have a ton of leverage, but the Wild have to be fairly desperate to bolster the right side of their defense. A third and fifth round pick going to Nashville would be fair for both sides.
That right there would be tremendous asset management by Trotz. Once again, it would take a lot of hard work, but if done would be tremendous for the Nashville Predators roster.