The Nashville Predators aim to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for an eighth consecutive season, and a third time under the leadership of head coach John Hynes. They’ve managed to stay afloat this season with scoring contributions from their top nine and a collective effort on the blue line, but they’ll need more if they hope to make it past the opening round for the first time in four years. General manager David Poile has never shied away from making bold and sometimes controversial trades, whether it’s during the offseason or at the trade deadline. While it hasn’t led to a Stanley Cup victory yet, one can’t argue he isn’t trying to make things interesting.
Being the only general manager in the franchise’s history speaks volumes about the trust from ownership in Poile. While he has faced criticism in the past for shrewd moves that ultimately led to the team’s undoing, he’s managed to build a competitive time under a limited budget for nearly a decade. The team may have struggled out of the gate and missed the playoffs in their first five seasons, but Poile’s unwillingness to give up hope has led to the Predators making the postseason in 14 of its last 17 years. As we get closer to the trade deadline, set for March 21, let’s take a look at Nashville’s history at the deadline and some of the best and worst trades they made.
Predators’ 5 Best Trade Deadline Moves
Feb 15, 2007: Predators Acquire Peter Forsberg from the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2007 First-Round Pick, a 2007 Third-Round Pick, Ryan Parent, and Scottie Upshall
During the 2006-07 season, the Nashville Predators were becoming one of the best teams in the league. They had failed to make it out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons, but it was a promising change in the team’s overall success. While they finished with the second-highest amount of wins (51), Poile felt the need to add star power to his forward crop and make a push towards winning a playoff round for the first time in the franchise’s history. That’s when the team decided to pull the trigger on a deal, acquiring legend Peter Forsberg from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a package including Scottie Upshall, prospect Ryan Parent, and two draft picks.
The move was seen as a bold one, with some criticizing it for being too much for a pure rental. It was Poile’s first time making a significant deal to improve his team ahead of the playoffs, and the arrival of a star like Forsberg brought in excitement for Predators fans. Attendance had been on the rise the last two seasons, coinciding with the team’s success and playoff appearances, but nothing brought in more fans at the time than Forsberg. Attendance rose to over 15,000 fans, the first time the franchise hit that benchmark since the 2000-01 season, and the excitement for a deep playoff push could be felt across the city of Nashville.
While the Forsberg saga lasted just 17 regular-season games, and the Predators were eliminated in the first round by the San Jose Sharks in five games, the Predators still pulled off the most successful single-season record of their franchise’s eight years. Finishing with 110 points, the team had the second-highest number of wins, third-highest number of points, and fourth-highest number of goals scored. The success brought in a wave of support for the team, and the thrill of watching Forsberg, albeit for a brief time, will never be forgotten. The package to acquire him was significant, but it’s important to note that Poile re-acquired Parent three years later in the Dan Hamhuis trade with the Flyers, and they also received their first-round selection back from the Flyers in a deal that sent Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell to Philadelphia.
Mar 5, 2014: Predators Trade David Legwand to the Detroit Red Wings for a 2014 Second-Round Pick, Patrick Eaves, and Calle Jarnkrok
The 2013-14 season was a tasking one for a Predators team that had failed to make the playoffs the year before. Although their win percentage had improved compared to the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, it wasn’t enough to earn them a spot in the postseason. David Legwand was a pending unrestricted free agent and had been the team’s first-ever draft selection in 1998. To this date, he stands as the player with the most games played for Nashville, and his trade to the Detroit Red Wings was like a band-aid being ripped off. While fans were sad to see Legwand go, the package they received in return helped the team’s future for many years to come. Nashville received a 2014 second-round pick, defenseman Patrick Eaves, and prospect Calle Jarnkrok.
Jarnkrok quickly became a prospect who wasn’t getting a chance in Detroit. Despite injuries piling up, the Swedish centre was never given an opportunity with the big club, and was relegated to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins. Regarded as a top prospect, Nashville gave him a 12-game tryout in the 2013-14 season before he became a regular in their lineup the following season. For seven years, Jarnkrok established himself as a quality third-line centremen who excelled at both ends of the ice and contributed 10 or more goals in six of the seven seasons he dressed for Nashville. Had it not been for the Seattle Expansion Draft, he may very well have still been with the Predators.
Legwand played in 21 games with the Red Wings and signed with the Ottawa Senators in the offseason. The two-year, $6 million contract he signed would likely not have been offered by Poile, and the fear of losing him for nothing like he did once before with defenseman Ryan Suter was avoided. Legwand finished his NHL career in Buffalo during the 2015-16 season, while the second-round pick was flipped to the Sharks for a 2014 second-round pick (Jack Dougherty) and a 2015 fourth-round pick (Anthony Richard).
Feb 27, 2012: Predators Acquire Paul Gaustad and a 2013 Fourth-Round for a 2012 First-Round Pick
Gearing towards their third consecutive playoff appearance, 2011-12 appeared promising, with the elevation of fan attendance and a 48-win season propelling them up the league’s standings. The Predators were scoring by committee, with eight players scoring at least 15 goals, and Pekka Rinne was spectacular with a .922 save percentage and five shutouts. Poile decided to start adding to his team at the expense of draft selections, trading out several picks to acquire the services of depth pieces like Andrei Kostitsyn and Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens. The Predators added to their bottom six when they traded their first-round selection in 2012 for forward Paul Gaustad and a 2013 fourth-round selection.
Gaustad arrived and quickly established himself as a solid fourth-line forward that the Predators sorely required. He wasn’t an offensive-minded player by any standards, but his ability to win faceoffs made him an asset to the club’s success. The best part of his acquisition was that Gaustad chose to re-sign with the Predators, shedding the rental tag and became a contributing member to the team for four more seasons. In 30 playoff games with the team, he registered two goals and one assist while winning 55 percent of his faceoffs on average spread across three postseason appearances.
The first-round selection that Buffalo received was used to select Mark Jankowski. While he never played for the Sabres, he appeared in parts of four seasons with the Calgary Flames. Normally it’s the higher-ranked draft choice that becomes the most notable, but instead, it was the fourth-round selection that the Predators acquired. At 99th overall, Nashville took goaltender Juuse Saros. While Rinne was the current star between the pipes, Poile’s decision to grab the Finnish goaltender set the team up for another decade and a half of goaltending brilliance. Saros, who appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game this year, is leading the team to another winning season and is one of the biggest reasons why the Predators are in the mix for an eight consecutive post-season run.
Feb 10, 2011: Predators Acquire Mike Fisher for a 2011 First-Round Pick and a 2013 Third-Round Pick
The Predators and Ottawa Senators were two teams trending in different directions. While the Predators’ 99-point season was enough to earn them a spot in the playoffs, the Senators finished 26th in the standings, missing the post-season for the second time in three seasons. Although Mike Fisher had two years remaining on his deal at the time, including a no-movement clause, the Senators opted to move them forward for future assets and build their team for years to come. The Predators managed to acquire him for a first-round selection in 2011 and a third-round pick in 2013, a small price to pay for a player of Fisher’s caliber.
He quickly became a household name in Nashville, playing a significant role in the Predators’ top nine, and contributing the secondary scoring that the team had needed for years. His wife, Carrie Underwood, resided in Nashville at the time, and the move to the new team had felt like a homecoming for Fisher, both personally and professionally. He spent seven more seasons with Nashville, even becoming their captain for his final year after Shea Weber was traded to Montreal for P.K. Subban, and retired at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.
The draft picks that went the other way didn’t amount to much for the Senators. The 2011 first-round pick was used to select Stefan Noesen, while the 2013 third-round pick was used to take Jarrod Maidens. Noesen has amassed 207 NHL games in eight seasons with a variety of teams but never dressed for Ottawa. In the last two seasons, he has spent more time in the AHL than in the NHL and is seen as a depth piece. Maidens never played in the NHL after leaving the game of hockey in 2011. After sustaining a career-ending concussion in an OHL game with the Owen Sound Attack, Maidens inability to deal with post-concussion syndrome led to his decision to retire. The Senators had taken a risk on drafting him, knowing of the sustained concussion cutting his 2011-12 season short, but chose to take the risk anyway.
Apr 3, 2013: Predators Acquire Filip Forsberg from the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat and Michael Latta
Perhaps one of the biggest steals in NHL history, Poile took advantage of the Washington Capitals’ thirst to do more in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they traded them rental Martin Erat and Michael Latta for prospect Filip Forsberg. At the time of the trade, the reaction from the hockey world ranged from disbelief to hysteria, as the transaction was heavily lopsided. The focus of the deal at the time was all about Washington acquiring Erat in an attempt to capture the Stanley Cup, but the price they paid is something that has haunted them for nearly a decade.
Forsberg has become one of the Predators’ most prolific goal scorers, amassing 205 goals in just over 500 games, and his presence on the top line is one of the biggest reasons why Nashville has become an exciting team to watch. His ability to take control of a game has led to the Predators being a top team in the Western Conference for several seasons. He has been a top-three scorer on the Predators in every full season he’s appeared in and is on his way to repeating this in the 2021-22 season. He played a pivotal role in the Predators’ 2016-17 and 2017-18 Stanley Cup runs, accumulating a combined 32 points in 35 games. While it remains to be seen what the future holds for Forsberg and the Predators, what he’s brought to the team for many seasons can never be forgotten.
While Washington got the short end of the deal, they did get what they wanted at the time. Erat propelled the team from a .500 club to one of the best teams in their division. It was a necessary move for the Capitals as they looked to make noise in the playoffs, and the team felt that he was the piece that they were missing. Unfortunately, their Stanley Cup aspirations were cut short, losing in the first round in seven games. He played in just four of the games after sustaining an injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the series. Latta played in parts of three seasons in a supportive role on the team’s bottom six and by the 2015-16 season, both he and Erat were out of the NHL.
Predators’ 5 Worst Trade Deadline Moves
Mar 9, 2006: Predators Acquire Brendan Witt from the Washington Capitals for Kris Beech and a 2006 First-Round Pick
The Predators had experienced their first taste of the playoffs in the 2003-04 season, and Poile was hungry for more. At the trade deadline, he stocked up his blue line with the addition of Brendan Witt, a hard-nosed, gritty defenseman. He provided the physical edge and toughness required to go deep in the post-season, and the fit seemed perfect at the time. The Capitals, who had been rebuilding and were starting to take shape, with a fresh-faced 20-year-old named Alex Ovechkin ready to make an impact. Witt appeared in 17 games, scoring no goals and adding three assists, and the Predators were bounced from the first round for a second consecutive year. The subsequent off-season saw him depart to the New York Islanders.
Kris Beech remained with the Capitals for one more year after the trade, but the focus was placed on what became of the first-round selection in 2006. The Capitals drafted a goaltender by the name of Semyon Varlamov, a promising prospect out of Russia who had made a name for himself at the Under-18 and Under-20 World Junior Championships. At 33, Varlamov is still in the NHL and has finished top-five in voting for the Vezina Trophy in two seasons. His stint with Washington lasted three years before moving on to the Colorado Avalanche for seven seasons and the Islanders for three seasons, including this current year.
Feb 27, 2012: Predators Acquire Andrei Kostitsyn for a 2013 Second-Round Pick and a 2013 Fifth-Round Pick
The Predators acquired forward Andrei Kostitsyn from the Montreal Canadiens in an attempt to make it past the first round in the 2011-12 season. Ten days prior, they acquired Hal Gill from the Canadiens, and the 2013 fifth-round pick they received was used in the trade to get him. The team built up their depth, including secondary scoring from Kostitsyn and Gill’s penalty-killing expertise. The Belarussian winger amassed 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) in 19 games and helped the Predators reach the second round for the second time in as many years, but Nashville ultimately fell short once again. He registered four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in eight games but was not re-signed in the offseason and departed from the NHL.
Of the two draft picks the Canadiens received, the 2013 second-round selection was used to take Swedish centre, Jacob De La Rose. At the time, he was a highly-touted prospect and one of the best defensive-minded centres of his draft class. Acquiring him in the second round was seen as a steal, and he went on to play in parts of four seasons in Montreal. After three more seasons between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, De La Rose returned to Sweden to play for Färjestad BK. It’s a wonder what kind of impact he could have had with the Predators instead of a short stint of Kostitsyn and a second-round exit.
Mar 1, 2017: Predators Add P.A. Parenteau for a 2017 Sixth-Round Pick
Returning with another trade deadline rental acquisition, the Predators picked up P.A. Parenteau to add depth to their top-nine scoring and provide some competitiveness. Parenteau had been picked up on waivers by the New Jersey Devils from the Islanders earlier that season, but the team flipped him at the deadline for a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft. A veteran at that point in his career, Poile felt the need to add smaller assets while attempting to avoid disrupting the team’s chemistry and remain competitive in their hunt for a Stanley Cup.
Unfortunately, Parenteau appeared to be a shell of his former self, lacking the offensive awareness that made him a 20-goal scorer the year before. In eight regular-season games, he registered one assist and saw his ice time reduced significantly to under 13 minutes per game for the first time in his career. He couldn’t keep up with the NHL’s pace, and the Predators were eliminated in the first round in five games. Following the conclusion of the season, Parenteau played one final season in the KHL before announcing his retirement. The draft pick the Devils acquired was used to select Alexander Chmelevski, who has spent the majority of his career in the AHL but is only 22. In five games with the San Jose Sharks, he has registered two assists and could potentially fill a role in the NHL soon.
Feb 25, 2019: Predators Acquire Wayne Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers for Ryan Hartman and a Conditional 2020 Fourth-Round Pick
Another rental acquisition that Poile fumbled was that of Wayne Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Ryan Hartman and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick. This time around, Poile’s focus was to add toughness and grit up front, and he fit the bill perfectly. He was in his eighth season with the Flyers when the decision was made to move him, and the Predators felt his presence could be of use to a team needing some toughness at the forward position. The only issue was that Simmonds had a long track record of injuries, and it was a concern to some whether his body could be able to hold up in a physically-demanding Western Conference.
Simmonds played in 17 games, registering one goal and two assists, but was sidelined with lower back pains. The injuries continued into the post-season, resulting in him playing in just two games while being forced to watch his team lose in the first round. On the other side of the coin, Hartman moved on from the Flyers to join the Minnesota Wild, where he currently is enjoying success in his third year with the team. In 37 games this season, he has posted career-highs in goals (19) and assists (18) and is on pace to finish with around 60 points. Making $1.7 million for two more years after the current season, Hartman sure would have looked great in Nashville colours.
Feb 25, 2019: Predators Trade Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild for Mikael Granlund
Perhaps one of the most painful deadline trades Poile has ever made was back in 2019 when he sent Swiss forward Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild for Mikael Granlund. He had been with the organization for five years after he was drafted at 11th overall by Nashville and was primed to be one of the team’s top-six players for many years to come. In his second season, Fiala had registered 23 goals and 48 points in 80 games, cementing the belief among Predators fans that the future was bright for the 20-year-old. Unfortunately, after 64 games in the 2018-19 season, he was flipped to Minnesota for Granlund in an attempt to add veteran experience at the forward position.
Granlund is five years older and put up back-to-back 20-goal seasons before the year he was traded, and the belief was that his goal-scoring abilities and natural offensive awareness could translate well on a Nashville team that Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson. It did not, however, as the Finnish forward amassed just one goal and four assists in 16 games with the Predators, while adding one goal and one assist in six playoff games. Since then, Granlund has registered 17-goal and 13-goal campaigns in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. In his third season this year, he’s on pace for 13 goals and 52 points, up from his previous two years but still not at the level he was playing with Minnesota.
Fiala, on the other hand, has only trended up since playing for the Wild. In his first season, he put up 54 points in 64 games, following it up with 40 points in 50 games the following season. Both he and Granlund make relatively the same amount on the salary cap, but at five years younger and currently on pace for his best season statistically, Predators fans often wonder what a 25-year-old Fiala would have looked like on the current team.
Predators Deadline History
- Erik Gudbranson acquired from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Brandon Fortunato and a 2023 seventh-round pick
- Korbinian Holzer acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Matt Irwin and a 2022 sixth-round pick
- Miikka Salomäki traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Ben Harpur
- Brian Boyle acquired from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick
- Cody McLeod acquired from the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round pick
- Emil Pettersson traded to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Laurent Dauphin and Adam Helewka
- Nicholas Baptiste traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Future Considerations
- Kevin Fiala traded to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Mikael Granlund
- Wayne Simmonds acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020, the condition of winning one playoff round was not met
- Andrew O’Brien traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Mark McNeil
- Pontus Åberg traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Mark Letestu
- Mark Letestu traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick
- Brandon Bollig and Troy Grosenick acquired from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2018 sixth-round pick
- Ryan Hartman and a 2018 fifth-round pick acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for Victor Ejdsell, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2018 fourth-round pick
- Pierre-Cédric Labrie and Trevor Murphy traded to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for John Ramage and Tyler Gaudet
- Vernon Fiddler acquired from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2017 fourth-round pick
- P.A. Parenteau acquired from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2017 sixth-round pick
Predators 2022 Deadline Forecast
The 2022 trade deadline could be an opportunity for Poile and the Predators to consider adding depth on their blue line. Throughout the 2021-22 season, injuries to Matthias Ekholm and Dante Fabbro at certain points have highlighted the deficiencies in the team’s defensive structure and relying on depth defensemen like Harpur and Phillipe Myers has proved to be a failure. Perhaps a piece on the blue line and one up front at the centre position could make the Predators a contender in the playoffs.
However, concern has arisen with the uncertainty of Forsberg’s future with the team. While reports have indicated Poile is heavily shopping his name, the team stands a better chance in the post-season with him as part of the team. Unfortunately, the unknowing of the Swedish superstar re-signing with Nashville has left Poile and management in doubt, and acquiring a package for the star winger’s services is better than watching him test the free-agent market and leaving for free. This year’s deadline will prove to be an interesting one for Nashville, as they appear to be cheap buyers while also possibly parting ways with a top-line winger, all in the same year.
Covering the Nashville Predators. I work for a company called SPORTLOGiQ and have loved the game of Hockey for over three decades. I’m obsessed with advanced analytics and pair that with my love for the eye test – i.e. watching the games (I DO that too!)