NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Deals That Could Spark the Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators (31-16-4) are among the hottest teams in the NHL, and are just three points behind the division- and league-leading Detroit Red Wings. They're finding an unprecedented amount of scoring, and netminder Pekka Rinne has won 10 straight games.
But a traditional Preds fan must wonder how long this high-caliber offense will continue.
Considering the ongoing contract discussions with Ryan Suter and the looming offseason decision awaiting Shea Weber, it could be attractive to both star defensemen for Nashville to add some proven, high-energy forwards to their roster.
Although, with Suter's comments at the All-Star Game raising some eyebrows, and considering the team's deep pool of defensive prospects already available, Nashville may also look to move him in order to get a top-six forward in return
A deal to get some scorers to Music City would be crucial, not just to keep their top defensive duo, but also to build a balanced team looking to make a push for their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance. What would be best for the Preds?
5) Tuomo Ruutu
Carolina Hurricanes left-wing Tuomo Ruutu is mentioned by Kevin Allen of USA Today as a good piece to add to Nashville's hopes of making a deep playoff run, as well as to raise Suter's belief in the program's ability to compete for a Stanley Cup.
Ruutu would bring with him some veteran scoring presence, playoff experience and would automatically be one of Nashville's most proven forwards. The 28-year-old still has plenty of gas left in the tank. It may be a short-term acquisition—his contract expires after this season—but it would definitely increase the Predator's chances of competing for—and winning—a Stanley Cup.
He's fresh off his most productive season (57 points in 2010-11), and is a durable player who hasn't missed a game since the 2009-10 season. Nashville has a boatload of defensive prospect potential, and that should make Carolina listen to Nashville, as the 'Canes boast the second-worst defense in the league.
Potential Deal: Tuomo Ruutu for Nick Spaling and prospect Charles Olivier-Roussel
4) Ales Hemsky
The right-winger has averaged nearly a point-per-game over his last four seasons, and has scored over 65 points three times in his career. The Oilers may be interested in Preds prospect Jonathon Blum, who has garnered some valuable playing time behind the league's best D-men the last two seasons.
Hemsky would have a real chance to be Nashville's biggest scoring threat if he donned the Predators jersey after the deadline. Adding Preds 23-year-old right-wing Matt Halischuk, who is playing at a high level and has potential, could make this a done deal.
Potential Deal: Ales Hemsky for Matt Halischuk and prospect Jonathon Blum
3) Mikhail Grabovski
Grabovski is the third highest scorer on the Leafs, and would be able to work his way onto one of the top two lines if the Predators were able to bring him in.
This would be one of the deals that Nashville would look to make if they decided to deal Suter at the trade deadline, given both the quality of Grabovski and what the Maple Leafs would demand to let him go.
I've always said that Nashville would be wise to keep Suter, but they could get multiple talents from Toronto, including a defender who could help replace Suter and keep the Predators hopes of competing for the Cup alive.
Potential Deal: Mikhail Grobovski, John-Michael Liles and a first-round pick for Ryan Suter
2) Brayden Schenn and James Van Riemsdyk
This would be another big pull from Preds GM David Poile if he decides to pull the plug on the illustrious Nashville-Suter relationship.
Brayden Schenn, a fifth-overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has massive potential and is surrounded by too many high-caliber scorers in Philadelphia. Rumors are swirling that he may be sold at the deadline.
James van Riemsdyk has been battling a concussion that has kept him out over the last few weeks, so it'd be a big risk for Nashville to make a move for him. The team lost a lot of money in a similar situation with Matthew Lombardi last year.
However, van Riemsdyk was one of the more talked about candidates for the Flyers to trade for Nashville's Suter or Weber, and this deal could happen if they can prove he's healthy before the Feb. 27 deadline. He could immediately be one of the Predators' best forwards, and Brayden Schenn could be the star of the future in Nashville.
The Flyers are desperate to find a replacement for Chris Pronger, and their defense is a big obstacle in the way of them making a run for the Stanley Cup. They would potentially give up a lot to get this top-10 defender.
Potential Deal: James van Riemsdyk (if healthy), Brayden Schenn and a first-round pick for Ryan Suter
1) Re-Signing Shea Weber and Ryan Suter
All speculation aside, this is both the best move for the Nashville Predators moving forward and the most likely one.
GM David Poile knows that losing either one of his All-Star defensemen is more likely to cripple the franchise than bolster it. He's facing many more questions about Suter right now after the latter's All-Star Game comments, but he has stood firm on the fact that his first priority is keeping Suter in Nashville for a long time. Attention has shied away from Weber recently, and he's very unlikely to get traded at this point.
Nashville scored 45 goals in the month of January, second in the league only to the Boston Bruins (50). They have the scoring potential to make a push for the Stanley Cup, and until that changes, these stars will be happy where they are.