Martin Nečas could help solve Nashville Predators' offensive problems

Sputtering offensive is all too familiar for the Predators, but luckily Nečas may be available and could certainly help solve those woes
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Six
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Six / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

The Nashville Predators are already making moves in their 2024 offseason. Recently, they traded defenseman, Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Lightning in a move that general manager, Barry Trotz said was more of a personal move for McDonagh, rather than trying to clear cap space. You must take Trotz at face value. He seems like the type of person who values doing right by the player. But the move that serves McDonagh and his family can help the Predators, as well.

After the Predators’ season was ended by the Vancouver Canucks, attention quickly turned to what went wrong. But the weakness was glaring, and the problem was all too familiar for the Predators: their offense failed them. The Predators averaged just two goals per game during the 2024 playoffs.

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same with Nashville. Other than the Peter Laviolette era, the Predators’ offense has failed to show up at critical times, despite several different head coaches at the helm.

There are clearly improvements needed. But luckily for the Predators, there could be a big piece to the solution available.

According to Elliotte Friedman via his 32 Thoughts podcast, the Carolina Hurricanes may be open to parting ways with Martin Necas, most likely due to their cap situation. Friedman stated that he believes that the Hurricanes would not be able to work out a deal that would be satisfactory to Necas.

The Predators may need to dust off an offer sheet

The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent, so there is a process. It will not be as straightforward as signing an unrestricted free agent. But with his talent, it would be worth it for the Predators.

Essentially, the Hurricanes still own Necas’ negotiating rights, even though he needs a new contract. For the Predators to obtain him, they would need to use an offer sheet. This is basically a contract that Necas could choose to sign, but the Hurricanes would have the opportunity to match the Predators’ offer.

If the Hurricanes did match the offer, it would bind Carolina and Necas to the new contract. If the Predators did use an offer sheet and the Hurricanes decided not to match it, the Predators would succeed in acquiring Necas, but the Hurricanes would receive compensation in the form of draft picks.

The amount of compensation is determined by the contract value. Considering Necas signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Hurricanes in 2022 and will want a raise, the compensation could be a first-round and third-round pick, as his contract could likely be over $4,201,488 but less than $6,302,230 in annual average value (AAV).

However, for all this to happen, the Hurricanes would have to extend Necas a qualifying offer, allowing Carolina to retain those negotiating rights.

Necas is top-line center talent

But back to why the Predators should certainly be interested in the former 12th overall pick from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Necas recorded 53 points in 77 games during the 2023-24 regular season, a dip from the 71 points in 82 games he registered the year prior. He just finished playing his fifth NHL full-season and has shown he has the speed and skill to be a star in the NHL. His game fits Andrew Brunette’s style to a tee, and he could be exactly what the Predators are looking for and have been missing in their top-six forward group.    

Necas was drafted as a center by the Hurricanes but has predominantly played on the wing. The Predators are in desperate need of a player who could assume that top-center role. Ryan O’Reilly was no slouch while centering Filip Forsberg and Gustav Nyquist, but Necas may be able to elevate that line even more. This would allow O’Reilly to drop down to the second line, drawing more favorable opposition matchups and, in turn, be more efficient.

Despite the overachieving that the Predators shocked the hockey world with, they are still rebuilding… or retooling, whatever the chosen term was. At 25 years old, arguably, Necas is still yet to hit his prime. He is a player that the Predators could build around for many years. Offering a longer-term deal to reduce the AAV and appeasing the team’s salary cap is very much an option. Former GM David Poile was a fan of using long-term deals – sometimes to the team’s detriment – but we will see where Trotz falls on this strategy.

But as in life and sports, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Signing Necas to an offer sheet may not be as straightforward as some might hope, and the Hurricanes failing to extend a qualifying offer is less likely. This is not to say that Necas will definitely be in Raleigh next season. As mentioned, there is the belief that the two could part ways. However, the Hurricanes know what they have in Necas, and letting him walk would be foolish.

After the New York Rangers ended the Hurricanes’ season, former president and GM, Don Waddell said of Necas’ future, “We’ll figure out something with him.” Later adding, “We’re not opposed always to trading players, but you also have to look at the value of what you’re getting back for players. Marty’s an exceptionally skilled guy that you’re just not going to give up on, that’s for sure.”    

So seemingly, if Necas is to depart the Tar Heel State, the Hurricanes will not take it lying down. However, Trotz may be prepared, and seems willing to do what he must to keep the Predators competitive and on track with his grand vision.

During the end-of-season press conference, Trotz was asked about the possibility of offer sheeting a restricted free agent.

"“I think the timing of those things has to be right because our job is to put the best team on the ice,” the Predators’ GM said. “I was coaching here when (former Predators defenseman) Shea Weber got an offer sheet. Most of those these days… they’re going to match them and so it just creates a lot of ill-will. I would probably, number one, try to work out something with that team before we go to those extremes. But you know what, when it comes to winning a Stanley Cup, you’ll go to a lot of extremes to do things. So that’s not out of the realm for sure.”"

Preds End

It also doesn’t seem that Trotz would shy away from Necas, assuming he wants him, and the Hurricanes matched a potential offer sheet or signed him before it got to that point. When speaking of improving the team and becoming a younger squad, Trotz simply said, “Everything is on the table. If we can get better through trade or through free agency, through acquisition or flip-flopping assets with another team, we’ll do that.”

The Trotz-Brunette era started with a bang, and arguably they’re already much further along in the rebuild than many would have thought. However, to take that next step, they will need to find more players who can produce on a nightly basis, rather than looking to Filip Forsberg every time they need a goal. Necas can be that guy for the Predators. If he is someone who interests Trotz, and he should be, the coach turned GM needs to prove that “everything is on the table.” Signing a player of this magnitude would continue to show that Trotz truly is the best general manager for the Predators, not just a hire that hits all the right nostalgic feelings.