Why the Nashville Predators and Mitch Marner Trade Buzz isn't Plausible

It's shaping up to be another crazy NHL offseason with plenty of massive trade candidates out there, and the Predators have assets to make a deal.
Dec 9, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) shoots the
Dec 9, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) shoots the / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Juuse Saros will be one of the top trade candidates this offseason that the Nashville Predators might be enticed enough to deal, but Mitch Marner has emerged as an impact forward that the Toronto Maple Leafs will make available.

The Maple Leafs suffered another debilitating playoff exit this past week, and Marner's performance is being heavily scrutinized. Furthermore, the Maple Leafs have no choice but to make some serious subtractions to their roster. They can't keep all of their superstars.

Marner put up as bad as a stat line as you can even fathom from an elite level winger making over $10 million, only managing three points (1 goal) in the seven-game series loss to the Boston Bruins. Ouch.

Bryan Hayes of TSN recently stated that Marner is the odd man out with the Leafs already investing in Auston Matthews ($13.25 million) and William Nylander ($11.5 million). The Leafs have no cap space going into the offseason, making them one of six teams with that distinction per CapFriendly.

All of this to set the table that the Marner trade hype is real. Now to tie this into the Nashville Predators, who have assets to work with including draft capital this offseason. Saros being the obvious bread winner.

Is a Preds trade for Marner even possible, much less is it worth the risk?

It's not breaking news that the Predators need more impact, superstar talent in the group of forwards. Even with Filip Forsberg going off this season for 48 goals and 94 points, and Roman Josi, Ryan O'Reilly and Gus Nyquist finding the fountain of youth, the Predators didn't have enough to overcome a Vancouver Canucks lockdown defense even while having a third-string goalie.

Trading for Marner gives me nightmare fuel, and here's why; we remember all to vividly how bad David Poile screwed up by chasing his white whale of a superstar forward. Kyle Turris will live in our nightmare forever as Predators fans, and while Turris was never even close to the elite level of Marner, Marner will also be way more expensive.

Matt Duchene was supposed to be Poile's home run offseason acquisition, and while I hold firm to this day that Duchene was unfairly held to a ridiculous standard by many, that contract never beared the fruits we really hoped it would.

Same can be said about Ryan Johansen, who came in the trade of Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johansen was outstanding for the Predators for a few years, and then that faded out. Johansen will carry a $4 million dead cap hit in 2024-25 for the Predators.

All of this to say, the Predators' historical track record of chasing big time forwards in the offseason is horrendous. Doesn't mean that Trotz can't reverse those fortunes and hit that proverbial grand slam on one of them, but Marner's risk blows away the other ones mentioned. If that implodes, you set the franchise back so many years.

Marner and the Preds don't make sense

The whole argument from Hayes on TSN, that I fully agree with, is that the Leafs can't invest that kind of money into Marner when they're trying to rebuild a team. That notion is relevant to the Predators as well, who are also in a retool phase despite overachieving this past season.

The Predators no doubt need to be aggressive this offseason in pursuing more impact forwards with high offensive upside, but Marner isn't it for me. Too much money will be tied in, too much will have to be sacrificed to get him, and it's no guarantee he alone elevates the team enough to be anything more than an early playoff exit, or maybe you get the prize of finally getting out of the first round.

A Marner trade for the Predators means Saros is definitely gone, which I'm not totally against, but it also means you're losing other vital players in the trade package and also a lot of draft picks. That's on top of paying Marner's nearly $11 million salary for one more year, and then he hits unrestricted free agency in 2025.

Marner mania for Smashville would fill seats, be exciting and he would instantly upgrade the offense. I just don't like what it would cost and his reputuation of underperforming in big time moments.

Plus, Marner has a No Move Clause and has clearly stated he wants to stay with the Leafs. If he comes to grips with being the odd man out, I highly doubt he'll be receptive to going to the Nashville market, unlike O'Reilly who has been open about loving his transition from Toronto to the Nashville market.

Marner is a superstar talent. He's in his prime age range at 27 and has many more near 100-point seasons left under his belt. Some of the criticism towards Marner has been fair, and also way overblown, but that comes with the territory when you play for the Leafs and are making north of $10 million.

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Someone is going to take a home run swing for Marner and invest a lot of risk to do so. I just don't think it should be the Predators, and even if they push for him, I can't see Marner wanting to come to Nashville anyway.

The offseason strategy for the Predators needs to be finding more affordable pieces with high upside to fill their top-9 forwards out. Figure out the long-term plan for Saros, whether that's trading him or signing him long-term, and focus on elevating your prospect talent.

For all we know, the Predators have a future impact forward just waiting to get their NHL opportunity out of the prospect ranks.