It’s little secret the Nashville Predators’ biggest weakness is depth and scoring at the forward position.
Stacked at defence with players such as Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones, and with all-star goalie Pekka Rinne in the crease, the Predators got off to a great start this season, winning seven of their first 10 games. But since then, Nashville has slowed down considerably, winning just eight of its past 21.
Now fifth place in the Central Division (though in a playoff spot by five points) rumours are swirling around the Predators and what GM David Poile might do to make the team a post-season threat. With the plethora of blueliners they have at their disposal, the most likely move they could make would be to move one of the defenders for a scorer.
When asked about the speculation, Poile tried not to feed the fire, but he didn’t put it out either.
“I’m happy with our defence, happy with our goaltending and I would like a little bit more consistency with our forwards. Naturally, that’s what I would be looking for if there was going to be a change here,” Poile told Adam Vingan of The Tennessean. “I have no interest in touching my defence, but if there was going to be a trade here — I’m just being very bottom-line with you — whenever I talk to a team and I’m asking about forwards, they’re asking about one of our defencemen. You can fill in the blanks. I think we’ve got all good defencemen, so people aren’t shy about asking.”
The problem now is pulling off a trade big enough to make a difference to the roster and doing it in-season, when it’s much more difficult to make the dollars work around the salary cap. The Evander Kane trade a year ago came during the season and no doubt was a blockbuster, but mostly, these kinds of deals happen around the draft in the off-season, when every team is tinkering with its roster.
Making a big trade during the year is a complex game.
“(It’s) the closeness of dollars, meaning the necessity of moving equal dollars to make trades,” Poile said. “And (with) the parity that we have in the league, everybody still has a chance. I think it’s going to be reflected at the trading deadline (Feb. 29) this year. If the races stay this close, you might see the fewest amount of trades ever at the trading deadline.
“It’s not from lack of effort, I can tell you that. It’s not from general managers not talking to each other. It’s not from desire. … If I could make a trade now to maybe change our team a little bit, I would be open to that. But you need to have a partner and you need to have this match in so many ways. It’s just not like it used to be that you could just make a trade for the sake of doing something because things have to match up. Dollars have to match up, years and contracts have to match up. Maybe even your age has to match up, maybe even position. It’s really a different thing.”
On Tuesday night after Sportsnet.ca posted a story on Columbus coach John Tortorella benching centre Ryan Johansen, a few Predators fans chimed in with trade thoughts of their own. How much sense does a Johansen-for-Seth Jones trade make right about now?