Sitting two points out of the eighth seed in the West, the Nashville Predators are currently in eleventh place looking up, with only 14 games left in the season. Although anything can happen in the playoffs, if the Predators were to secure the seventh or eighth seed, they would most likely face the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks or the streaky Anaheim Ducks. That leaves Predators GM David Poile with the question of whether to buy and try to make a run, similar to the past few years when he’s added players like Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Mike Fisher, or sell and restock for future clubs.
The Case for Buying
Last year, the eighth seed Los Angeles Kings met up with the Sedin-led, President’s trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. After picking up Jeff Carter and Mike Richards earlier in the year, the Kings beat the Canucks on their way to beating the New Jersey Devils for the Stanley Cup.
One thing is clear; the 2013 Predators are not the 2012 Los Angeles Kings. The Kings had two offensively powerful top lines, two consistently bruising bottom two-lines and a balanced defense. If the Predators want to make a run to make the playoffs this year, they’ll need some help getting there. Looking at players currently available after the Pittsburgh Penguins recent shopping spree (which may not be quite finished yet), the Predators would need additions for both the offense and the defense-side of the puck.
So who could the Predators be looking at if they want to buy?
Some potential options that are rumored to be available:
- Ryan Clowe
- Ales Hemsky
- Scott Hartnell
- Derek Roy
- Mike Ribeiro
- Jay Bouwmeester
- Robyn Regehr
- Sergei Gonchar
Looking at this list, it appears there are some real candidates that could greatly benefit the Predators on both offense and defense. Former Predator Scott Hartnell would add goal-scoring and grit to the lineup, while forwards like Hemsky, Clowe, Roy, and Ribeiro all bring different aspects that could help the Predators consistently put pucks in the net.
As far as defense goes, the Predators could gain a huge boost from any of the guys listed that would be helpful to replace the loss of Ryan Suter on the blueline.
The Predators Should Start Selling
Yes, I’m entirely positive that any of the players listed above would be a great addition to the Predators team that has shown flashes of potential this season. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea or worth risking the loss of draft picks or prospects that could contribute to the lineup sooner, rather than later.
The Predators have a chance this year, with so many teams still considered Cup contenders, to add legitimate picks and prospects that they could use to address the several holes the team currently has. Although Calgary may have not received the full return they expected for Jarome Iginla, the Predators should be able to get a decent return for their available pieces.
So who could the Predators look at sending to help other teams this year?
The top four players (Fisher, Erat, Legwand, Gaustad) would draw interest. All have some version of a NMC or a NTC, but might be willing to waive it to go to a contender. On defense, only Gill and Hannan can be considered tradeable assets, as Shea Weber is not able to be traded for a year from when he signed the offer sheet with the Flyers.
So lets say that hypothetically, if any of those six players are traded the Predators would be able to stockpile picks for the upcoming draft, which is rumored to be one of the deepest drafts in recent years. Plus, there are teams in the east, like the Bruins and the Canadiens will be looking for ways to make up for missing out on players like Morrow and Iginla. While there might be better options out there, if one of the Predators forwards would be open to it, the team could get a pretty nice package in return.