With the Trade Deadline weeks away, the Vegas Golden Knights will want to bolster their lineup for playoff time by negotiating deals with teams that haven’t had much luck this season. That includes the lowly Nashville Predators who, after a dismal start to the season, find themselves out of a playoff spot.
Nashville has two players on TSN’s “Trade Bait” board: Matthias Ekholm and Mikael Granlund. They are viable options for any team looking to solidify their roster and compete for the glorious Stanley Cup, but unfortunately, they are not the right options for Vegas. “Who is?” you may be asking yourself.
The Golden Knights should really pursue Nashville center Erik Haula. Yes, that Erik Haula. There are three reasons why I think they should acquire the young Swede. Here they are.
Best Season in Vegas
Starting with the best reason first; Haula enjoyed the best season of his NHL career during his time in Vegas. In the team’s inaugural season in 2017-18, Haula was a star, posting 55 points in 76 games, as well as contributing a solid nine points during their run to the Final.
Since then, Haula has bounced around three teams, the last being his home now, Nashville, where he signed on a one-year deal. He is an underrated rental that any team should consider to strengthen their bottom-six forward corps. However, the Golden Knights should do more than look into his availability; they should pull the trigger.
Haula hasn’t produced another season like the one he played in 2017-18. His highest point total since then is a measly 24 points for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers in 2019-20, but that could change in Vegas. He has already proved to be a great fit for the organization, and with the Golden Knights as strong Stanley Cup contenders, they could use all the firepower they can get.
Nashville Selling Low
With so much hype around Ekholm and Granlund, it would be easy for Haula to be lost in the fray. With teams looking at Nashville’s “Top Guns” for reinforcement, Vegas could easily swoop in for Haula and secure him for a late-round pick in the upcoming draft.
The University of Minnesota Alum will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and Nashville has already made it clear they will be sellers at the deadline, so they may sell Haula off cheap. How do I know this? I don’t, but it makes sense.
Nashville is a far cry from a playoff team, so why not get something for Haula, who will probably leave in the offseason anyway. I don’t need to be a general manager (though I wish I was) to understand this makes perfect sense from Vegas’ perspective; pick up a player who has a track record of producing for you for peanuts. I don’t know about you, but I see a reunion in Vegas coming up, and it’s not for a bachelor party.
Vegas Needs Center Depth
This has been talked about since the offseason. The team doesn’t have a true number one center, as Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson have jostled for first-line minutes throughout the season, but their last two center spots are lacking even more.
Their third and fourth line centers are Cody Glass and Thomas Nosek, respectively. They are great players, don’t get me wrong, but Haula would be a big upgrade. He would slot in beautifully on the third line, allowing Glass to sometimes play wing on the first two lines. Haula also brings flexibility, as he has played on the wing before and can be a winger on the third line if the Golden Knights want to keep Glass in the middle.
Whatever they decide to do, Haula would be a great addition and automatically strengthen Vegas’ center depth, giving them an even greater shot at attaining the Stanley Cup.
With the NHL trade deadline upon us, teams will be looking to wheel and deal to secure their playoff chances, as well as bolster their future odds. With NHL trades also comes excitement, and as I have said in the past, this is the most wonderful time of the year (aside from the playoffs and free-agent frenzy of course). So, enjoy this time of trade and bask in the Golden Knights’ attempt at success; I know I will.
Michael Vidakis is a Montreal native who writes for the Vegas Golden Knights team here at The Hockey Writers. In his spare time, he enjoys the finer things in life such as Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, staring aimlessly outside windows and tangerines.