The Nashville Predators find themselves in an enviable position heading in towards the Trade Deadline. They’ve got a bit of room between them and the teams which are fighting for the final Western Conference playoff spots, and could conceivably go after their first Central Division title with a strong push down the stretch. That would put them solidly in the “Buyers” category, even though they do have some attractive players headed towards free agency who would make tempting assets on the trade market, most significantly Ryan Suter. Given the chance to make another push past the first round of the playoffs, however, David Poile has to try and maximize what this year’s team might do.
There are probably two main opportunities to improve the effectiveness and flexibility of the current lineup. First off, a big, physical defenseman who could work the penalty kill would provide a tremendous boost. Outside of Suter and his partner Shea Weber, there isn’t much size of physicality out of the rest of the Nashville blueliners, and you don’t want your two big stars doing so much of the dirty work. The Preds do have two rookies making excellent contributions on the power play in Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, but they could use a basic thumper to make life difficult for opposing forwards and protect Pekka Rinne’s crease. Secondly, an additional Top Six-caliber forward would allow Barry Trotz to roll three full-stocked, relatively talented lines, while reserving the fourth for checkers and penalty killers. There will be a bit of a squeeze there as currently the lineup is healthy and Trotz has tough decisions on who to scratch each night, but there’s definitely an opportunity to inject some talent there. Budget shouldn’t be much of an issue, as the team has had among the lowest payrolls in the league all season long, and any acquisition will have already collected about 2/3rds of this season’s pay. There has been a great deal of discussion about raising the team salary level next season, so don’t rule out the acquisition of a player under a longer contract, just as they did with Mike Fisher last year.
Nashville Predators trade targets: Bobby Ryan
What Bobby Ryan would bring to the Predators
It’s no secret that the Predators have one glaring need that needs to be addressed before serious talks of a Stanley Cup can be brought up: a forward that can provide consistent scoring night-in and night-out. That’s exactly what Bobby Ryan brings to the table.
Ryan followed up his 64-point campaign in ’09-’10 with a career-high 71 points in ’10-’11. But he also plays a defensive game – a requirement in Barry Trotz’ system. Ryan Posted a +9 and +15 over his last two full seasons all while playing top minutes for the Ducks.
Everybody remembers what he did to David Legwand in the playoffs last year:
He certainly fits the mold of the top-6 forward that would bolster Nashville’s scoring up front and would conceivably be enough to convince Shea Weber and Ryan Suter that Nashville is ready to compete for a Stanley Cup now.
Continue reading about Ryan, click here to go to On the Forecheck.
Nashville Predators Trade Targets: Mikhail Grabovski
What Grabovski would bring to the Nashville Predators
Grabovski, obviously, would bring that scoring touch that the Predators need to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. He’s not a pure scorer like a Steven Stamkos, but would add another consistent scorer to the Predators’ current crop.
Grabovski also gets matched up defensively with opposing teams’ top forward lines and, as Seth noted on twitter, could play on Nashville’s first line and play the defensive style that Barry Trotz demands.
Oh yeah, but there was also that incident with countryman and would-be-teammate Sergei Kostitsyn:
Continue reading about about Grabovski at On the Forcheck, by Marc Torrence.