Very few teams have the projected cap space that the Nashville Predators have to paly around with if they want to add some pieces at the trade deadline, which is just six weeks away.
Adam Henrique is one of the top potential pieces that likely will be moved at the trade deadline, with the veteran center being shopped by an Anaheim Ducks team that is full-on rebuild.
Although the overall expectation is that the Predators won't do much at the trade deadline, it doesn't mean that General Manager Barry Trotz won't at least be tempted to make something interesting happen on March 8.
The Predators have been frustratingly unpredictable as of late. They can beat some really good teams only to turn around and look less than ordinary against middle-of-road teams that aren't even in a playoff spot.
With an overall pretty underwhelming trade market this year, Henrique stands out for teams who are desperate to add some extra boost to their lineup. Should the Predators be one of those teams with approximately $7.769 million in projected cap space?
Let's take a look at what kind of player Henrique is and why he's a quality veteran, but not the right fit for the Predators.
Preds Have Cap Space to Shop Around, but Henrique isn't a Fit
Frank Seravalli's latest trade target board on DailyFaceoff has Henrique at No.7, citing his high hockey IQ as his biggest asset he offers to interested suitors. He's a wise decision-maker with 875 games in his NHL career but never really getting a chance on a top Stanley Cup contender.
As for the fit with the Predators, Trotz has to decide how he feels about this current season and where it's going. He has to be realistic and not overpay for a player like Henrique, even if that player would help considerably in the short term.
Henrique is having a very commendable season for a bad Ducks team right now. He's got 14 goals and 14 assists in 45 games and would bring his new team a boost with his two-way play. He blocks shots, contributes on the penalty kill and is solid in the faceoff circle at 53 percent.
The Predators, more than anything, need more help on the penalty kill. They're 24th in the NHL and all you can do is take a deep breath where they're up against a top-10 power play. They're also near the bottom in faceoff percentage. So in that regard, Henrique would be an impactful addition as a high IQ veteran. Is that enough to go shopping for a rental? Definitely not.
Here's the problem with Henrique; his contract is awful, even if the Ducks retain half the salary. He also has a 10-team no trade list, although he might not even want to use it if he really wants to get out of Anaheim badly and win now.
This isn't the Year to be Buyers at the Trade Deadline for the Predators
The Predators might be further along than the Ducks in terms of winning now, but they can't be diving head first into acquiring veterans who are about to be 34 years of age. They're thinking more past this current season than they were realistically going deep for a Stanley Cup run in 2024. At least that's why they've led us to believe.
Just because you have the cap space to do it, doesn't mean you should. You can easily get Henrique without having to give up a core player of your own, but then whose roster spot do you take away at center? It would be malpractice to give Henrique a spot over Tommy Novak on the second line. And you're not adding Henrique to take a third line role on those contract terms.
Henrique is best served going to a team that's already good enough to win a Stanley Cup this year, but could use an extra veteran boost in their bottom six.
You're going to hear a lot of talk about Henrique at this year's trade deadline, and he'll probably end up going to a real contender that he can be a valuable asset to in a third line type of role. That team isn't the Predators. It isn't a match.
It's also going to be kind of tricky to find a trade partner for Henrique with a lot of contending teams not having much cap space to work with.
The best approach for the Predators at this year's trade deadline is to deal some pending 2024 free agents of their own, add more to their prospect pool if possible and acquire some extra draft capital.