It's no secret to those who know me that I'm a very big fan of the Nashville Predators hockey team. I literally wear my Preds fandom on my sleeve ... and head, and feet and just about anywhere else you can stick a Predators logo. Since I'm known as a hard-core Preds fan, when the team does something noteworthy I can count on getting some texts and calls from friends as well as casual acquaintances who want to get my take on what the moves mean to the casual fan.
This past week was no exception as the Predators made some of their biggest moves in their 25-year history. So for those wondering, I'll use this platform to share my view of the present state of Nashville's NHL team.
This year's team has struggled with consistency all season. They've been on the cusp of playoff contention but just haven't gotten over the hump. Traditionally teams not in the playoff picture at the trade deadline use that date as the tipping point to decide their immediate future. The trade deadline, which is today, separates the teams looking to add players to make a deep playoff run from those aiming to take advantage of those teams by trading some of their best players who may be getting older or coming up on difficult contract situations.
Basically, teams use the deadline to decide if they think they can win the Stanley Cup this season or if they want to load up for the future. It looks like the Predators' eight-year playoff streak will be coming to an end this year, which has put them in the unusual situation (for them) of being a seller.
This means the causal Preds fan has being seeing many of the names they recognize - Nino Niederreiter, Tanner Jeannot, Mattias Ekholm and Mikael Granlund - leaving Nashville. While this seems alarming on the surface, what the Predators have received in return has blown away even the most veteran hockey journalists. Those players who didn't really figure into the Predators' long-term plans have brought back extra draft picks in the first, second, third, fourth and fifth rounds in this June's draft which will be held in Nashville. The team also stockpiled another first-round pick in 2025 as well as an extra second-round pick in 2024. That's the kind of equity that can help a team return to contention quickly. So, yes, I am very happy with these moves and they aren't even the biggest news from this week.
David Poile, the only general manager the team has known since its inception in 1998, has announced his retirement as the end of this season. Making the loss of Poile palatable, even exciting, is the announcement of his successor who has already had a hand in these recent moves. That man is Barry Trotz, the first coach in Preds history and the third winningest coach in the 106-year history of the NHL. Since moving on from the Preds he has won a Stanley Cup and is a sure bet for the Hall of Fame. I have always loved Barry and have gotten to talk to him on several occasions. It's hard to find a nicer guy in the hockey world. So, the next few years could be rough in Smashville but the future looks golden.
Standard Managing Editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191