Yesterday was the NHL’s trade deadline day, and the Nashville Predators joined in on the fun with many of their Western Conference counterparts. As the day wore on and noon rolled around, plenty of small-brained idiots we’re complaining that Poile had done anything. These experts on the comings and goings of NHL trade negotiations would have had Mark Stone before we all finished our morning cup of coffee. David Poile isn’t quite at the genius that those folks are, but he ended up doing okay for himself anyway.
In the final hour leading up to the NHL trade deadline, the Predators were plenty busy. As it started to look like Mark Stone was going to become a Vegas Golden Knight, Poile pulled the trigger on a 1-for-1 trade that sent Kevin Fiala to Minnesota in exchange for Mikael Granlund. Poile wasn’t done there. Right before the deadline arrived, the Predators also shipped a fourth round pick and Ryan Hartman up to Philadelphia in exchange for Wayne Simmonds. The Preds closed with a flurry, so let’s look at those moves they did make.
To Minnesota: Kevin Fiala
To Nashville: Mikael Granlund
More often than not, I’d say that trading a 22-year old for a newly 27-year old (Happy Birthday, Mikael if you’re reading this) is not a great idea. Of course, that would be in a case where the younger player is better or comparable to the older player. That is not really the case in this situation.
I have been a Kevin Fiala defender for much of the season, but there is no denying that Granlund is objectively a better player than him. In 2016-17, Granlund tallied a nice total of 69 points. In 2017-18, Granlund racked up 67 points. Both of those totals would have led the Predators. A player who is able to score 20+ goals and add 40+ assists is a nice luxury to have. That’s what the Predators were hoping that Fiala would turn into, but they probably decided to upgrade now because they have a window of opportunity to win in the present.
I hope that Fiala does realize his potential. I was rooting for him here, but Granlund is a very effective player in all three zones. Over the last couple of seasons, Granlund started a majority of his shifts in the defensive zones and still managed to produce offensively.
One thing I noticed that's stood out to me a bit about Granlund is he had 136 points over the last two seasons while averaging 59% of his on-ice starts in the defensive zone.
He's at 52.5% starts in the offensive zone this year (flipped) and is on pace for 64 points.
— Kristopher Martel (@kmartel_sports) February 25, 2019
That means Granlund can generate offense no matter how you deploy him. That will come in handy, especially in the postseason. Granlund also generates quality shots for himself and his teammates when he’s on the ice. Take a look at Minnesota’s Heatmap with him on the ice.
Another thing to love about Granlund is his versatility. He can play on the wing or at center. He had his breakout year on the wing, and that’s where he’ll likely play with the Predators. But it’s still nice to know that Granlund can slide over to center in a pinch. He and Boyle can both do that.
Granlund should also help on Nashville’s abomination of a power play. Despite having just two power play goals, Granlund has 18 points on the power play. Hopefully he can bring some degree of creativity to a power play that is sorely lacking in that department. Ideally, Granlund would be feeding the likes of Forsberg and Turris to put them in the best possible position to let a shot rip.
More importantly than all of this, Granlund acquired dad strength yesterday. His wife gave birth to a child, which means he is roughly 18 percent stronger now. That’s science. Hopefully he can put that to good use here in Nashville.
As much as I liked Fiala, I understand why the Predators were growing impatient with him. His career season was 48 points last season, and he likely won’t hit that mark this year. Granlund is the better player now, and he should give a boost to that second line.
To Philadelphia: Ryan Hartman, conditional 4th-round pick
To Nashville: Wayne Simmonds
Ryan Hartman is another player who I liked and don’t love to see go. I liked his speed and tenacity, and frankly his underlying numbers weren’t too bad. Still, I really like what Wayne Simmonds brings to the table for this team.
Simmonds will become a fan favorite for Nashville fans because he is a tough son of a bitch and a pain in the ass to deal with in front of the net. His 16 goals this season are more than Hartman had in 85 regular season games as a Nashville Predators. Don’t get me wrong, Simmonds isn’t the same impact player he was several years a go, but he can still make a difference for this team.
Simmonds, like Granlund, could also pay dividends on the power play. Simmonds hasn’t lost his ability to park his ass in front of the net and knock home rebounds. If Granlund is here to facilitate chances on the power play, Simmonds is here to finish them. This is all assuming that the Predators somehow adapt to a system that gets the puck to the net with the man advantage. If they can just do that, Simmonds has a chance to make a real impact. Just take a look at where Simmonds shoots from on the man advantage.
At 5-on-5 Simmonds isn’t exactly fleet of foot, but he can still be effective there. Simmonds can throw his weight around against teams like the Jets — in an effective manner. He will be slotted perfectly on the third or fourth line on this team. He and Peter Laviolette are already familiar with each other, so hopefully that makes the transition easier for Simmonds.
I was on the Wayne Train before 2019 rolled around, and I’m excited to get him. I would’ve liked to keep Hartman, but Poile didn’t have to fork over a first-round pick to get Simmonds. While it may be somewhat redundant to trade for both Simmonds and Boyle, I’m still really excited at the thought of having Simmonds on this team.
On an additional note, the fourth-round pick becomes a third if the Preds win a playoff series this spring. Needless to say, I’ll be a monk living in the Andes if that draft pick doesn’t become a third-rounder.
The rest of the Western Conference loaded up yesterday. The San Jose Sharks added Gusstav Nyquist. The Winnipeg Jets added mark Stone. The Vegas Golden Knights added Mark Stone. The West was caught up in an arms race, and now it’ll be an absolute slugfest the rest of the way and in the playoffs.