Along with five other projected started forwards for the Nashville Predators, Yakov Trenin will hit unrestricted free agency in the offseason of 2024 and enters the upcoming season as a key depth player.
It’s always been easy to appreciate the raw energy and emotion Trenin brings to the Predators, but now he’s flying under the radar a bit surrounded by a changing team and an influx of young talent.
And to be clear, Trenin is only 26 and has just two full seasons of NHL experience, along with the pandemic shortened 2020-21 campaign and his debut NHL season in 2019-20.
So what’s to make of the player no one is really talking about on a Nashville Predators roster that has plenty of storylines and newcomers?
The “Yak Attack” still has a lot to offer to Nashville Predators
Trenin’s time with Nashville could have just one season left, or even less than that as one of many possible trade block candidates judging by where this team sits in the standings when the 2024 deadline gets here.
In the short term, Trenin is being looked toward as a depth scoring piece and one that can be an effective two-way forward. He hits hard, provides a bit of an enforcer mentality, and has that power forward frame that can muscle his way to some big time goals.
So why then is Trenin so hard to figure out? It really comes down to multiple factors that will play into 2023-24, and some that’s out of his control.
Trenin hit career high in goals with 17 and games played with 80 in 2021-22. Settled into the lineup and found his valuable place. Every team needs a Trenin type of player that throw the body around and adds a spark to the bottom six.
Trenin stuck around in the Predators lineup last season for 77 games and everything off with points in the final two games, including a goal against the Minnesota Wild.
You need players like Trenin for your depth that not only can chip in 15 to 20 goals, but also bring that physicality and be a tone setter. The team lost a vital piece of that when Tanner Jeannot was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning this past trade deadline.
Trenin has piled up 358 hits over the past two seasons, and now you need his offensive game to be a little more efficient if he’s going to land another pay raise and multi-year deal.
It is always possible that the Predators roll the dice into next offseason and try to re-sign Trenin for another modest one-year deal. But I would suspect that there would be a decent market for Trenin that could lure him away for slightly more money from another team.
Factors that could end Trenin’s tenure with Nashville
A large factor for Trenin will be where the Predators sit as they approach the 2024 trade deadline. If they’re far out of contention and this becomes a growing pains type of year, then trading away Trenin will be a viable option.
However, if the Predators are solidly in playoff contention then you want a player like Trenin going down the grind of the NHL regular season. You need his physical presence to make the playoff push.
Trenin needs to utilize his big frame to bully his way around the net for more rebound goals, much like he does in this clip via SportsNet from this past January in a game against the Washington Capitals:
Another factor is a new head coach in Andrew Brunette having his own vision for the future that doesn’t necessarily include Trenin. This is an unknown factor that we’ll all have to learn together as the season rolls on. And except for a very few, every player is affected by this uncertainty.
With a starting lineup that’s extremely difficult to project for 2023-24, Trenin will likely retain his role as a third line winger. However, he needs to remain at the very least at the same production that he has provided over the last two years, or even slightly improve on that.
Like several other players on this roster, Trenin has to prove his long-term worth to the front office past the 2024 trade deadline. I don’t see it plausible to move into next offseason with six forwards as unrestricted free agents, while also having two restricted free agents in Philip Tomasino and Juuso Parssinen.
Furthermore, adding Denis Gurianov late in free agency after the first waves rolled through, that’s more roster competition. If Gurianov really blossoms here, then that makes Trenin more expendable. They are both 26 and entering big years personally to get new contracts, whether here or elsewhere.
The final factor is, of course, that Trenin’s play dips and he can’t find his role in a new system under Brunette. At the very least my expectations for Trenin is he at least holds serve with what he has produced in the past, but if he does decline then he could possibly lose starts and ultimately not be retained past 2024.
While Trenin is certainly not at the forefront as much as several other players coming into Nashville Predators training camp in September, he’s definitely a player who is playing for a bigger and more stable contract.
Trenin was signed to a two-year deal in August 2022 for $1.7M AAV. If his production slips or stays stagnant as a sub 30-point scorer, the organization might very well just move on from him at the deadline or let him walk in the offseason.
Time really does fly by, but Trenin was drafted all the way back in 2015 as a second-round pick by Nashville. You’d love to keep him here, but Trenin has work to do if he’s going to stay ahead of such up-and-comers out of the prospect pipeline like Egor Afanasyev, Joakim Kemell and Reid Schaefer.
With that said, I’m hoping Trenin brings the “Yak Attack” mentality and gives the organization a clear reason to re-sign him by improving on his offensive efficiency while continuing to be that enforcer type of player.
Plus, why wouldn’t you want to see more of this from Trenin in a Nashville Predators sweater?
Without a doubt new General Manager Barry Trotz should want to keep Trenin around for years to come, but he does need an impressive first half of 2023-24 to show he’s worth another contract and a pay raise in the 2024 offseason.