It was a chaotic day as the roster freeze was going into full effect before finalizing expansion draft protection lists. After the deadline, the hockey world saw so many trades trickle out. It was hard even to keep up. Arguably the biggest trade of the day was the Predators dealing Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick. Reports then came out that Nashville dealt Nolan Patrick to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for former sixth overall pick Cody Glass. It shocked the hockey world, especially Predators fans, considering how much Ellis has meant to the franchise. The return could also be classified as underwhelming. So, what is Nashville getting, and why might David Poile have made this deal?
We’ll start with the 6-foot-5 tank on the back end in Myers. The 24-year-old defenseman has played a total of three seasons in the NHL with minimal point production. In 115 games, he has produced a low total of 29 points. In 2020-21, he scored 11 points and only one goal in 44 games. As much as the point totals might be repulsive, it’s hard to watch Myers and not think that the best is ahead. He’s a massive human being who can skate like many players of his size can’t. He has some excellent puck skills, and considering how well the Predators do with a great puck-moving defenseman, I can easily see him being an impactful addition to the squad.
His floor looks to be a second to third-pairing defenseman, and, if put in the right positions, he could pan out to be even better than that. He adds size, physicality, and excellent skill to go along with it. Although he had a down season and was consistently scratched by Alain Vigneault, there is a lot of potential to unlock. It might be easier said than done, but there is a lot to like about this young defenseman and his abilities.
The main prize in this deal is Glass, the player who the Knights picked four selections after Patrick went to the Flyers. Due to both underperformance and small injury history, he has bounced up and down from the NHL to the AHL with both the Chicago Wolves and Henderson Silver Knights. His metrics in the NHL haven’t been good, to say the least, but he has scored 22 points in 66 total games. He was thrown into a depth grinder role with the Knights, and for a player with his skill set, that won’t cut it. Some people continue to be extremely high on him, citing his injuries as to why he may be playing at an underwhelming level. Others look at his NHL production thus far and get increasingly more worried about his ability to perform in the best league in the world.
One thing is for certain, and that is if Glass is put into the right situation–top-six minutes with excellent linemates–he can develop into a scoring threat. The scouting reports surrounding him talked about not only his two-way ability but his excellent play-driving and control of the rush. Although his skating might not be the greatest, it’s certainly not awful, and his deceptiveness with the puck will serve him well in the future. He can think the game at a high pace, which contributes to his ability to drive play at a level that can produce results. He has the skillset to be an impactful second-line center and provided with the right linemates in the right situation; he can grow into that role.
Why Make the Deal?
I wrote that the Predators might look into dealing Ellis before the offseason was over, and it came to fruition. I had even been advocating for it since the awful start in 2020-21. His injury history is concerning, and the down year was detrimental to the Predators’ success. With the massive contract he was on, the time was nigh to deal him. The front office is clearly emphasizing an influx of talented young players into the lineup, as Poile has hinted at Eeli Tolvanen getting an increased role and the possibility of Philip Tomasino cracking the lineup.
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Trading away older, declining players to lower the team’s average age seems to be the offseason’s primary goal. From my perspective, it’s about time that it happened. The core that was present wasn’t getting anywhere, and Poile understood that too.
I would much rather see the Predators go through a reset, acquire young players like Glass and Myers, draft well, and get back into contention for a Stanley Cup over consistent first-round exits. No one wants to see their team repeatedly get beatdown in the early rounds. It’s no fun. Why not have a fun team that might lose a fair amount of games but is the foundation for a Cup contender? I like that idea far more than a perpetual state of mediocrity.
Was the Return Enough?
To answer the question bluntly: no, it wasn’t. It would be worse if they had decided to keep the injury-prone Patrick, but flipping him for Glass was a huge win, in my opinion. It’s nothing against Patrick as a player or person, and a fresh start on a contending team could be exactly the jumpstart he needs. However, at this point, Glass appears to have a higher upside. While he isn’t the best defenseman ever, Myers could be an excellent addition given how well the Predators development crew does with blueliners.
That being said, I think it was a mistake not to pry more from the Flyers. Chuck Fletcher has said he would be willing to deal his first-round pick in this year’s draft, and not getting that or another pick is an issue. It tilts the value of the trade heavily in Philadelphia’s favor. Considering how Ellis is viewed around the league and all the stats pointing him out to be a top 20-25 defenseman, it’s a shame that no draft picks were included. It would have really enforced the notion that youth is the direction of the franchise. While I am disappointed in that aspect of the trade, the return is solid, and the players coming to Nashville have some high upside. It will be interesting to see how they can impact the team in both this upcoming season and the seasons to come.