The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and it still feels like the Predators need to make another move. David Poile has already traded for depth forward Brian Boyle and … that’s the only trade I’ll acknowledge.
I’d argue the Predators need some more reliable scoring to really cement themselves as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Luckily for them, there will be some of those teams on the market. We’ll take a look at six players the Preds could conceivably go after. That does not mean they are actively looking to get these players. This is just one idiot’s dumb opinion on who they should go after.
Back Up the Brinks Truck
These players will likely hurt to acquire. They’ll take at least a first-round pick and a top prospect. On top of that, all three of the players below could end up being rentals that the Preds don’t or can’t re-sign.
LW Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets
Panarin is the most skilled player on the trade market right now, and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic has already reported that the Predators have at least called the Jackets. He also said that Poile may have been taken aback by the price. Still, there is interest there and the price could come down the more news comes out about Panarin not staying in Columbus after this year.
Panarin would provide an incredible scoring boost to this Preds lineup. Putting Panarin in the top six creates instant matchup issues for opposing teams with the JoFA line already in place. Panarin’s skill allows him to get to the middle of the ice and create high quality scoring opportunities. The Heatmap below shows Columbus’ shot locations with Panarin on the ice.
The Predators, when they have been struggling, simply aren’t taking enough shots from the slot and are over-relying on outside shots to get the job done. As you can see, Panarin doesn’t do outside shots. He does dangerous shots and dangerous shots only.
It also goes without saying that Panarin would improve the Preds’ league-worst power play. Putting he and Forsberg on opposite sides of the ice with the man advantage would make goaltenders wet themselves. Both players could pull the trigger or dish it. Nashville’s power play wouldn’t be in last place for much longer.
The main issue with acquiring Panarin would be that he will cost you some very valuable future assets, and Nashville would only get him for the rest of the season. Panarin wouldn’t re-sign with the Preds even if they could afford it.
No matter the cost, Panarin would put the Predators over the top with plays like these.
Mark Stone, RW, Ottawa Senators
Assuming the Senators don’t re-sign Stone, which is still a fluid situation, he would be a perfect fit for this Predators’ roster. Stone, like Panarin, provides an instant impact on the offense. The Senators, an objectively garbage team, are carried into respectability every now and then by Stone. The Sens can’t sniff the net with Stone on the bench, but here is what it looks like with him on the ice.
Stone also has a reputation for being a fantastic two-way forward as well. So, he wouldn’t only contribute offensively, but he would help solidify things in Nashville’s zone too. They’ll need that if they meet the Jets in the playoffs once again.
It wouldn’t be cheap to trade for Stone, and it would be a challenge for the Predators to fit him under the cap if they wanted to re-sign him. Still, the idea of having an offensive weapon like this for a playoff run is appealing.
Matt Duchene, C, Ottawa Senators
Duchene is the other big pending UFA that Ottawa is trying to re-sign, but that looks a little less likely for him to stay with the Sens than Stone. It’s no secret that I have an affinity for Duchene and was campaigning for the Preds to bring him here last season.
The center/winger is another one of the few Ottawa players who keeps the Senators from being an AHL team. Duchene’s underlying numbers aren’t quite as good as Stone’s, but he’s still a very effective player on a horrible team. He creates scoring chances from the slot with fair regularity.
I like the idea of putting Duchene on a line with Kevin Fiala and Kyle Turris. I think that line would be a massive headache for opposing defenses with the amount of skill on it.
Additionally, Duchene loves Nashville. I also love Nashville. We could be good friends, but that’s not important. What is important is that he may be willing to re-sign and a somewhat affordable rate. There was a report that the Sens offered him an eight-year deal worth $64 million, or what Ryan Johansen got. I’m not sure Poile would be willing to offer that, but Tennessee has not state tax and Nashville. So…maybe..just maybe..Duchene would sign here for a bit less money. Still, the Predators should treat him as a rental until something changes.
Duchene would be just as costly as the first two names on this list, but he would be another piece that could put Nashville over the top in the West. Just check out this hand-eye coordination.
These players would still be impactful additions for this Predators team, but Poile wouldn’t have to mortgage the future to get them.
Gustav Nyquist, RW, Detroit Red Wings
Nyquist, a former Maine Black Bear, is on pace to have a career year in Detroit. Nyquist has the speed and skill to make plays in the offensive end for Nashville. He would help compliment a top line that does most of the Preds’ scoring.
The Red Wings are a hollow shell of a once great franchise. They may be an embarrassment to the teams of the the recent past, but Nyquist does make them fun to watch. Like many of the other players in this article, he elevates a bad team to competitive when he’s on the ice.
Nyquist has an ability to burn by defenses with his speed. I could see him fitting on a line with Hartman and Fiala. That could be a trio that has speed to burn. It would be a formidable line when the speed of the game picks up in the playoffs.
Nyquist is on a $4.75 million deal with the Wings right now. I’d imagine that, if they wanted to, the Predators could find a way to keep him. That’s an added benefit to require him. Poile may still have to part with a first-round pick and a prospect, but he may be able to hang on to Tolvanen and Fabbro. That’s a fair price for this type of speed.
Ryan Dzingel, LW, Ottawa Senators
If the price for Duchene and Stone is too high, Dzingel would be a nice consolation prize for the Predators in all this. The Sens’ winger is already having a career season with 41 points. Dzingel doesn’t bring the impact that Stone or Duchene would, but he would still bolster Nasvhille’s second or third line.
Dzingel loves taking shots from in between the circles, which is something Nashville needs a lot more of. Here are his individual 5-on-5 shot locations from this season.
Dzingel will be a free agent after this season, but he makes than $2 million per season right now. He would be an affordable re-signing for the Predators going forward. He’s also only 26, which means he is in the midst of his prime. Trading for him wouldn’t be as splashy as some of these other names, but he’d still be a quality piece to the Preds’ championship puzzle.
Wild Card Options
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida Panthers
This is an interesting one. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported yesterday that the Panthers may be interested in dumping some salary by trading winger Jonathan Huberdeau. Why would Florida be interested in doing that? Well, rumor has it that they would go after Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency.
Huberdeau has four years left on his contract at $5.9 million per season. That may make the Preds’ cap situation pretty tight — they have to re-sign Fiala, Hartman, and Sissons — but it’s possible that they could make it work. Because the Panthers are looking to dump salary, the price on Huberdeau might be lower than it otherwise would be but obviously I’m not privvy to those conversations, at least not until the Panthers respond to my job applications.
Huberdeau is more of a distributor than a scorer, though he has scored 27 goals before. That’s why he may not be exactly what the Predators are looking for, but it could only help to add him to the lineup.