The Nashville Predators are at the NHL All-Star break after a critical 4-2 loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings, and now have to start thinking about shopping such players as Alexandre Carrier at the upcoming March 8 trade deadline.
The team had a very fun 13-3-0 stretch in November and December and looked like they might have been ahead of schedule with their rebuild, but have come back to reality and are 8-10-2 since.
It is proven at this point that the Predators are far from a Stanley Cup contender, and they need to stick to their rebuild plans and sell at the upcoming trade deadline. The problem is, when you look at who has a lot of value in a potential trade, there are not a ton of guys on the team who really do.
Predators May Need to Capitalize on Carrier's Trade Value
Of course, Juuse Saros is in the mix, and Barry Trotz has not denied the possibility either. But as much as some fans would like to see that given the haul he would garner, such a move is a long shot until proven otherwise.
But there is one guy who Trotz actually might be able to get nice assets for, and is actually a realistic option given both that and the team's future outlook and that is Carrier.
When you look at players who other teams would legitimately trade for, and whose voids would not bog the franchise down too far, Carrier is that dude for the Predators. Now in his fourth fulltime season in the NHL and at 27 years of age, he has proven to be at least a solid everyday defenseman.
When Carrier came up to Nashville, he was expected to be a future star, and such hope was confirmed in the 2021-22 season when he placed 10th in Calder Trophy voting. He was also on the first all-rookie team alongside Moritz Seider, who won the Calder Trophy that year.
Carrier was expected to get better and better and as someone who was known for his two-way abilities, he looked like he could blossom and become a true force. Unfortunately, things have not quite gone according to plan since.
It is not like Carrier has been horrible by any means, but when you especially look at his offensive output over the past two years, he has fallen short of expectations. He has a mere six goals and 17 assists over his past 89 games, and the underlying metrics, at least this year, have confirmed that the base stats are not lying.
Many of Carrier's offensive metrics, including expected goals, expected goals per 60 minutes, shots on goal per 60 minutes, shot attempts per 60 minutes, and on-ice expected goals per 60 minutes have been some of the lowest on the team. To elaborate on that, the only players on the team who are lower in that final listed category are Jeremy Lauzon and Cole Smith.
That one especially is a metric that measures how much the player in question is impacting team offense, and Carrier has been almost nonexistent in that regard this year. Now he has been quite solid defensively, and January was one of his more productive months from an offensive standpoint with three goals and one assist.
A stretch like that shows you Carrier's offensive upside, but overall, he has not done enough recently for the Predators to prioritize his future like they once should have. That being said, the very recent stretch and his upside would be enough for Stanley Cup contending teams to trade for him.
Any win-now team that is short on defensive talent and depth would get an instant plus from trading for Carrier. And for someone like him whose development has been somewhat stagnated, it makes sense to think that a change of scenery could benefit him and another team could acquire him thinking that he could be a real future piece.
Trading Carrier Doesn't Come Without Considerable Risks
Every decision to acquire or get rid of a player in professional sports has its pros and cons, and there is one con with Carrier that although might not be a huge deal, cannot be ignored. If the Predators are going to move on from him, they are potentially depleting the right side of their defense to a point of real concern.
Besides Carrier, the only other right-handed defensemen on the Predators are Tyson Barrie, who still looks to be on the way out, Dante Fabbro, who has never established a firm future with the team, and Luke Schenn, who is by no means a valuable piece.
Besides that, the right-handed defensemen in Milwaukee are Jack Matier, Luke Prokop, Jake Livingstone, Jordan Gross, and Roland McKeown. Out of all of those in the Predators system, the one who has the most certain future with the team is Fabbro, which again, is not very certain at this point in time.
If that is not at least a little alarming to you, then you might want to think again. Once again, it is not like that piece of information makes trading Carrier a death sentence, and is nowhere near enough to make him off limits.
At the end of the day, if he ends up being their most favorable trade asset of the guys remaining, which looks like will happen, he needs to be shipped off if Trotz does indeed want to sell. Especially if Carrier and the Predators are nowhere near an extension by March 8, then the organization should not even think twice.
All I am trying to say is that if they do make this move, they better have a plan to really beef up that right side of their defense through free agency or another trade. You can only get away with guys playing off-hand so much, so Trotz better know what he is doing here.