With the trade of Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators to the Los Angeles Kings last week looking to be a good one, it also appears to be the first of many moves from general manager David Poile. It is pretty evident that the winds of change are coming to Nashville, and few people will be safe.
Arvidsson was a fan favorite in Nashville and was a popular guy in the locker room, as evident by Filip Forsberg’s disapproval of the trade in his Instagram story from a week ago with a thumbs-down emoji. But after his conversations with Poile, the latter just had the sense that he didn’t want to be around. With the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft coming up and from Poile’s words that the Kraken would have selected him in the expansion draft, he made the move to get a couple of draft picks out of the Kings instead of letting him go for nothing.
This move was pretty shrewd and highly commendable by the longtime and only GM of the Predators, and it’s pretty certain that it didn’t go well with the fans. Many people in Smashville were holding on to the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final back in 2017. Those feelings of nostalgia need to be let go to allow the team to evolve and be better. But it also allows players on the roster who were developing nicely to improve that development.
The window’s closed on that team, and Poile is finally realizing it and doing something about it. And it’s time for Smashville to accept that as well.
Emotion vs. Business
After the Stanley Cup run in 2017, which was followed by the Presidents’ Trophy in 2018, and a division title in 2019, it seemed like the Predators were going to remain a force in the NHL. That three-season stretch is definitely one of the best stretches in franchise history, and as a result, there were a lot of good feelings among the Smashville faithful and the team itself.
However, things started to fall apart at the start of the 2019-20 season. Midway through the season, Poile ousted head coach Peter Laviolette and replaced him with John Hynes. The team was still struggling; however, they were starting to surge before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season. With not many changes to start out the 2020-21 season and a slow start, it seemed like the emotion and the good feelings were wearing thin on not just the fans but Poile himself.
It seemed like the team was going to get blown up and start completely anew. But the surge happened, and instead of continuing on with those plans, it seemed as if the nostalgia of 2017 seeped in. It put a pause on making the moves to go to the future, and the team went ahead with the guys to make one last push. The lack of moves at the trade deadline was very evident in this decision, and fans were enjoying the surge and looking at this team wondering if they had one final run in them.
After a trade deadline of literally nothing (mainly due to the team going on a stretch that ended with a 20-7-1 record in the final 28 games) and getting bounced out of the first round at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, it was clear to Poile that they were not in the upper echelon of the NHL as they once were. This has been a team that had to use a second-half surge after a slow start to get to the postseason. See 2020 before the shutdown, and even the Stanley Cup run in 2017 when they went from the 8th seed to the Western Conference Championship.
Poile’s loyalty to those guys went for a long time, and in some people’s eyes, that time was too long. But Poile has had a history of trading away fan favorites for the sake of winning, which has been one of the reasons why he has held the position since the franchise’s inception in 1998. Take the Shea Weber trade, for example. Weber was the team captain and a beloved figure in Nashville, but Poile shipped him off to Montreal for P.K. Subban.
Subban endeared himself to the Nashville faithful pretty quickly. But for as swiftly as he was in Nashville, Poile jettisoned him to the New Jersey Devils. Another example was Jason Arnott, who was another fan favorite and team captain that Poile traded away. So the business logic has superseded emotion many times during Poile’s tenure as GM. He has made decisions that are tough, but he knows as much as anyone that in order to build a winner, sacrifices need to be made.
At the end of the day, the team has to go through some changes, and the team’s window as constructed was beyond gone. And the emotion behind keeping these guys together has to go too. Poile realized that with trading away Arvidsson and getting something out of it for the future, he avoided the mistake he made with letting James Neal (another popular player) go for nothing when Vegas drafted him in the expansion draft back in 2017. With the first change of the offseason happening, it will be fun to see what will happen next, and Smashville should embrace it.
Are you accepting of the changes that are about to happen for the Predators? Or are you wishing that they can keep the window still open? Mention me at @ddunhamjr on Twitter or comment below!