Predators Poile Pulls Off Masterclass in Final Trade Deadline

Though plenty of Nashville Predators fans have soured on David Poile in recent years, the veteran general manager reminded everyone of just how good he can be in what was his final trade deadline in his current role. The 73-year-old, who serves as president of hockey ops as well as GM of the Predators, announced just days ago that he will be retiring at season’s end, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished just yet.

David Poile Nashville Predators
David Poile, Nashville Predators, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Heading into the deadline, all options seemed to be on the table for the Preds, who have regressed after an impressive 2021-22 season. While Poile didn’t offload all of the contracts that were rumored to be on the move, he was able to for a number of players while receiving some fantastic pieces for the future in the process. Here’s a breakdown of what was a fantastic couple of days for him.

Niederreiter Shipped to the Jets

The first move Poile made was with the Winnipeg Jets, as he shipped them forward Nino Niederreiter in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick. If there were any moves that were criticized, this was the biggest one, as Niederreiter is a skilled forward who had another year remaining on his contract. That said, this Preds team needs to free up some money, and moving his $4 million cap hit for next season did just that.

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What is also important to remember in this situation is that Poile himself signed Niederreiter this offseason, so the future second-round pick serves as solid asset management. That said, the 30-year-old did perform well in his first and only season as a Predator, scoring 18 goals and 28 points through 56 games.

Jeannot Brings In a Haul

In what was the most shocking trade of the deadline, Poile was able to deal Tanner Jeannot to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a jaw-dropping return. While it had been rumored that the 25-year-old power forward may be on the block, most believed the Predators may at best receive a second-round pick in return. That wasn’t the case, as they instead managed to grab 24-year-old defenseman Cal Foote, third, fourth and fifth-round draft picks in 2023, a second-round pick in 2024, and a first-round pick in 2025.

Tanner Jeannot Nashville Predators
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Clearly, Jeannot was a player the Lightning wanted badly, and Poile was able to force them to pay a king’s ransom for him. Keep in mind that in 56 games with the Predators this season, Jeannot had just five goals and 14 points. This was an absolute masterclass for Poile, and will be a deal that continues to be talked about for some time.

Two Hulking Free Forwards

While Poile’s next two deals haven’t been discussed nearly as much, they have a chance to pay off in a big way, literally. He was able to acquire Isaac Ratcliffe from the Philadelphia Flyers organization in exchange for future considerations. This is a no-risk, high-reward type move, as Ratcliffe, despite struggling in 2022-23, has shown some promise early in his career.

Last season, the now 24-year-old was able to get into 10 games with the Flyers, scoring a goal and five points. After what appeared to be a building season, however, he has regressed majorly in 2022-23, as he had just four points in 26 American Hockey League games before the deal. That certainly isn’t ideal, but if he is able to get some confidence back in his game, he has a real shot at becoming a player for the Predators.

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While Ratcliffe will never blow anyone away with offensive skill, he has all the makings of a physical, bottom-six player at the NHL level. His 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame is enough to intimidate anybody and even better is that despite his hulking size he moves around the ice quite well. This is a player Preds fans should be keeping their eye on for the remainder of the season.

Shortly after acquiring Ratcliffe, Poile was able to bring in another player for free, this being Austin Rueschhoff, a forward in the New York Rangers system. While he isn’t as promising at this time as Ratcliffe, defensemen around the league will become quite nervous if he does turn into an NHL player. Standing at 6-foot-7, 242 pounds, he is as intimidating of a presence as there is.

Ekholm Sent Out in Blockbuster

As mentioned, Poile wasn’t able to send out as many players with term as were originally rumored, but he did move one in Mattias Ekholm. While Ekholm remains a very reliable shutdown defenseman, he is in the first year of a four-year contract which carries a cap hit of $6.25 million. That contract has the potential to become a poor one down the road, and didn’t make a ton of sense to keep on the roster given that the Predators won’t likely be competing for a Stanley Cup in the near future.

Mattias Ekholm Nashville Predators
Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Of course, Ekholm isn’t the type of player to be moved in a cap dump, and this deal was far from that. Though Poile also sent a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Edmonton Oilers in this trade, he received back a massive haul in Tyson Barrie, prospect Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick in 2024. This deal will help set up the Predators very well in future years, and they may very well look to move Barrie for even more future assets at next year’s deadline, if not this offseason.

Offloaded Granlund Deal

One of the more lucrative contracts that the Predators wanted to move was Mikael Granlund’s, though having two more seasons remaining after 2022-23 with a cap hit of $5 million had many thinking doing so would be difficult. That wasn’t the case, however, as Poile was able to get the Penguins to take on his entire deal with zero retention, and even got a 2023 second-round pick in return.

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This deal took many by surprise, as Granlund, despite having a 64-point season in 2021-22, has mostly struggled over the past four seasons. The Penguins are obviously hoping he can maximize his extremely high talent level with them, but it is certainly a risk given the amount of term left on his contract. As for Poile, he no longer has to worry about that, and provided the Predators with a nice draft pick moving forward.

Poile Bettering Situation for Trotz

While many Predators fans are thrilled with the work Poile was able to do in the days leading up to the trade deadline, no one will be happier than his soon-to-be successor Barry Trotz. Being able to move out some of the contracts he did will give Trotz more money to spend this offseason, and he also has plenty more future assets in the cupboard to do with as he pleases. There is little doubt that the Predators were one of the biggest winners of the 2023 Trade Deadline, and Poile deserves all the credit for that.