NHL Trade Deadline: 5 Deals Nashville Predators Must Consider
Nashville Predators: 5 Deals They Must Consider at the NHL Trade Deadline
The Nashville Predators are in the very precarious position of being right on the playoff bubble before the Trade Deadline. Do they try and stock up on players for a potentially futile push? Or do they sell off some assets and completely abandon any hopes for the postseason.
The front office at 501 Broadway have never been quitters, which will make the coming days even more interesting. As of the start of action on Wednesday, Feb. 26, the Predators are five points out of a playoff spot. They may have a big boost in Pekka Rinne returning from injury, but they will need even more help than just the Vezina nominee.
The easy part for the Predators is that they know what their weakness is. Not entirely an uncommon theme with this team, it's the offense that's causing Nashville the most grief in their attempt to get to the NHL playoffs in the 2013-14 season. Simply put, they need more guys who can put the puck in the net; after all, no matter how good your defense and goaltending is, you can't win if you don't score on the other end.
With that said, here are moves they must consider making at the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline if they have any hope of making the playoffs and making some noise while they are there.
5. Trade David Legwand
It seems counterintuitive. David Legwand is leading the team in points (40) and has been a mainstay on the team since he was drafted second overall in 1998. He was the first ever pick by the franchise. Trading him not only hurts them in the scoring department (where they are already thin) but it also hurts them down the middle (where they are also already thin). So why trade him?
Well, his value will never be higher. Contract negotiations seem to be nonexistent between Legwand and the front office, which makes his return to Music City next season less and less likely. Trading him to a contender could not only net a decent return in picks and prospect that Nashville could use to help bolster their younger players, it could make room for another move. Getting his $4.5 million cap hit off the books would allow another player to come in.
Colin Wilson and Ryan Ellis have been rumored to be players to help facilitate a second move. Legwand would be a perfect third-line center on a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's an unenviable position for sure: trade him and risk becoming worse, or hang on to him and lose him for nothing. GM David Poile had a similar situation with Ryan Suter a few years back, and we all know how that played out.
4. Trade for Radim Vrbata
Another case of contract negotiations being at a stalemate, the Phoenix Coyotes winger could very well be back with the club next season, but it doesn't make his availability any less tempting.
Radim Vrbata fits within the parameters of Nashville's salary cap, and though he isn't the highest-scoring player, he has a better offensive punch than most of the players currently on the Nashville roster. It could be a deal made not for a rental, but to try and coax him to sign on long-term.
The downside is Vrbata has a penchant for multiple scoring droughts throughout the season, which the Predators wouldn't be able to afford. However, he should be more than motivated (regardless of which team he's on) to play well down the stretch as he has most of the season. Mike Ribeiro is the only Coyote ahead of Vrbata on the scoresheet, and it's by a single point.
3. Trade for Jaromir Jagr
This is as big a pie-in-the-sky idea as there is, but Jaromir Jagr would do nothing but help the offensively-challenged Predators. The 42-year-old is leading the New Jersey Devils in points and is relatively cheap for his output, cap-wise. The Boston Bruins got him last year for prospects and a conditional pick, but you'd have to assume the price might be a little higher this time round. The challenge is that the Czech native stated earlier in the season that he didn't want to be moved at the deadline again. He doesn't have a no-trade clause, but the Devils are another team that is in-between buying and selling. Getting rid of him may not be in their best interest.
2. Trade for Sam Gagner
Sam Gagner has already popped up in trade rumors linked to Nashville. Like the rest of the moves, it would upgrade the Predators' offense, if only slightly. The team has good enough defense, and if Pekka Rinne comes back, they will have a rock solid goaltender. They need players who can put pucks in the net.
Unlike the rest of the moves, Gagner still has two years left on his deal after this season. He wouldn't be a rental, and could theoretically gel with the younger players that are getting ready to come out of the AHL pipeline. This deal makes the most sense for Nashville, and is actually within reason to pull off.
1. Trade for Paul Stastny
The price to get him would be substantial, but if the Predators' front office wants to prove to their fanbase they are not out of it and will be aggressive to make their team better, they would pay it. Paul Stastny is still young enough to be a difference-maker, especially on the Predators where he would become the unquestioned No. 1 center. His cap hit is high ($6.6 million) and he could very well command more if he makes it to July 1.
With how successful the Colorado Avalanche have been this season, it's highly unlikely they'd want to part with such a talent, especially since they'll need him in the playoffs. But Nashville has a plethora of young defenseman that could interest them.