Nashville Predators: Adding Play-Making And Grit

The Nashville Predators bolstered their lineup with the additions of Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund.

Granlund

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The NHL Trade deadline came and went and the Nashville Predators succeeded in adding a two-way force and a gritty power forward. Mikael Granlund was traded to the Nashville Predators for a hefty price in the young Kevin Fiala. While Fiala was a young player who just hasn’t quite been able to grab ahold of opportunity in Nashville, he is going to the Minnesota Wild who are seemingly looking themselves in the mirror and realizing that if they want to continue to compete, they need to take a year and retool with younger players who can help infuse the lineup with a little more speed and skill.

In Granlund, the Predators get a 200 foot player who is able to push the puck up the ice and create offence as well as the ability to play centre if needed. A skilled winger who excels at both ends of the ice, Granlund is currently at 52.4% Corsi For at even strength and which was good for a Corsi Relative of 1.6% which measures where he is compared to his team. The winger currently has 15 goals and 34 assists for 49 points in 63 games. This secondary scoring will be integral for the Predators in a bid to go on a long playoff run after the regular season as well as helping ensure the Predators the best seeding in the Central division standings.

Simmonds

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The second big addition on deadline day came in the form of power forward Wayne Simmonds. At the cost of Ryan Hartman and a conditional 4th round pick, the addition of Simmons made sense for the Predators. The 4th round pick can become a 3rd round pick if the Predators win one round in the playoffs this year. Hartman was traded to Nashville at last seasons deadline for a 1st round pick and a 4th round pick along with forward Victor Ejdsell. Hartman hasn’t worked out for the Predators and could use the change of scenery.

What the Predators get in Simmonds is a gritty winger isn’t the scoring threat he was a few season ago, but he is a solid contributor to a middle six and he can help change a game with the style he is capable of playing. A tough, hard checking forward who is relentless on the forecheck, Simmonds can also act as a net front presence on the power play, which ranks dead last in the NHL. He has shown to have an ability to clean up rebounds as well as get in the way of the goalies view of the puck while standing strong and battling for position.

Minor Deals

On the eve of the deadline, the Predators made a minor trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Predators sent Nic Baptiste to the Maple Leafs for future considerations. The Leafs AHL team, The Toronto Marlies, then sent AHL forward Emerson Clark to the Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s AHL team. It’s a relatively minor deal that changes players on each respective AHL team and likely won’t affect the NHL roster of either team.

Brian Boyle

Earlier in February, the team made a trio of trades. First, they traded a 2020 second round draft pick for fourth line center/winger Brian Boyle. A popular February addition for playoff teams in recent seasons, Boyle has proved to be an effective player and good leader for teams looking to make playoff pushes. Coming in at 6’6″ and 245 lbs, the forward brings size and physicality to the Predators who could use some come playoff time. Adding in some offence with 15 goals on the season, the veteran forward is a solid addition to the NHL lineup.

Cody McLeod

Hours later, the Predators added a familiar face in Cody McLeod for a 2020 7th round pick. This trade seemed purely a desire to bring back a locker room leader and player that they felt added a wrinkle to their lineup for games against the rough and tough games in the Western Conference. The final trade in early February happened two days later on February 8th, the Predators traded forward Emil Pettersson for forwards Laurent Dauphin and Adam Helewka. This again is a minor trade that won’t affect the NHL rosters. This was purely an AHL move of post prospect age players who are decent AHL contributors bolstering each roster.

What did their Rivals do?

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets were the busiest team on deadline day making 6 trades, none bigger than adding Center Kevin Hayes to their lineup, bolstering their depth similarly to how the addition of Paul Statsny did last season at the deadline. This gives the Jets a 1-2-3 center lineup of Mark ScheifeleKevin HayesBryan Little. Center depth that matches any team in the Western Conference. The rest of the Jets trades were depth pieces in forwards Par Lindholm, Alex Broadhurst and Matt Hendricks as well as defenders Nathan Beaulieu and Bogdan Kiselevich. Nothing that moves the needle but the defensive additions could signal defender Josh Morrisey could be more seriously injured than initially expected.

Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights only made one trade but it was the only trade they needed to make. They were able to pry prize forward Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators along with being able to negotiate an 8 year deal with an average annual value of $9.5 million per season. The cost was high. Vegas sent prized defensive prospect Erik Brannstrom, forward Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 second round pick all of was well worth the price of the most underrated superstar in the NHL. The acquisition of Stone certainly puts Vegas in the class of Nashville, Winnipeg, Calgary and San Jose making for a more competitive West especially with the emergence of the St. Louis Blues.

Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues

The Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks and the Blues all made deals as well, although none of the significance of the Knights or Jets. Calgary added defencemen Oscar Fantenberg from the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks added veteran playmaking forward Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings and the Blues added defencemen Michael Del Zotto from the Anaheim Ducks. All deals that help the depth of each team but none the kind of deal that wins the deadline.

The Predators Outlook

The rest of the regular season will be a battle. Thankfully management was sure to bring in coveted reinforcements in Simmonds, Granlund and Boyle as well as veteran presence McLeod. The Predators look vastly different from the team that started the season but the backbone of the team in their top 4 defencemen of PK Subban, Roman Josi, Matthias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis and their Vezina trophy winning goaltender Pekka Rinne. These two things along with the offensive additions can help propel the Predators on a deep playoff run but they will have to get through their loaded division first. The Central division and Western Conference dominated the headlines and put their names on the map this trade deadline. They loaded up and are going to be among a handful of teams fighting at the end of all works out.

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All stats and information is from Hockey-Reference.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com and TSN.ca

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

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Author: Tony Ferrari

Born in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in Windsor, Tony has loved hockey his entire life. Growing up as the lone Maple Leafs fan in a household of Red Wings fans, he followed both teams since he was a child. Having been through Toronto’s rebuild as a fan, Tony is ecstatic to be along for the ride and watch the Wings get back to their glory days. Having previously written about the Detroit Lions, Tony looks forward to bringing you content from the hockey world in a series of deep dive articles and analytical points of view that can help you better understand the little things we don’t all notice because they don’t show up on the stats sheet.