Nashville Predators: Grading Their Moves (and Non-Moves) at the Trade Deadline
The Preds entered trade season looking for a forward with top-six potential as well as an experienced defensemen. They got both, while adding one of the best face-off specialists in the league.
GM David Poile began his active February with a Feb. 17 trade with the Montreal Canadiens, shipping Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a 2012 second-round pick for defensemen Hal Gill and a 2012 fifth-rounder.
The one selling move they had was on Feb. 24, moving center Jerred Smithson to the Florida Panthers for a 2012 sixth-rounder. Smithson has had a long career with Nashville, ranking sixth in franchise history with 497 regular season games played, but it was hardly a fruitful career.
On Feb. 27, trade deadline day, the Predators had the first move yet again with the Habs as they brought in Andrei Kostitsyn for two 2013 picks (second-round and conditional fifth-round). The Preds reunited brothers Andrei and Sergei, who played together for three seasons in Montreal.
And just before the clock struck zero, Nashville made a move to bolster their depth at center by receiving Paul Gaustad and a fourth-round pick for their 2012 first-round pick.
The Preds were one of the teams offering a large sum for Columbus Blue Jackets star Rick Nash, but no team could match their asking price and he remained a Blue Jacket through this year's deadline.
So, how did the Predators fare in arguably their most anticipated trade season ever?
Hal Gill, Fifth-Round Pick for Geoffrion, Slaney, Second-Round Pick
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Hal Gill brings one of the biggest bodies (6'7", 241 lbs) in the league and a ton of playoff experience to Nashville.
The 36-year-old Gill may not be as dominant as he once was, but he still has top shot-blocking ability and should help to improve Nashville's penalty kill that currently is at a decent-but-improvable 13th. He's averaged over 17 minutes of ice time in his first four games as a Predator while playing beside up-and-coming Roman Josi.
Former Predator Blake Geoffrion showed promise in Nashville, earning his way on the roster late last season and producing well in the playoffs. However, he has regressed so far in 2011-12 and it didn't look likely that he would make it back anytime soon.
The Preds needed stability behind Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, and Gill is about as stable as they come. Losing Geoffrion and a second-rounder is never easy, but all-in-all a solid deal for Nashville.
Andrei Kostitsyn for Second and Fifth-Round Pick
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The Preds are a team that excels at scoring by committee and playing unselfishly, so Andrei Kostitsyn should fit in great in Smashville.
His brother, Sergei, who led Nashville in goals last season, came from Montreal in 2010 and was able to break out with the Predators. Andrei already has three 20-goal seasons on his resume, so he could evolve into one of Nashville's best players if he follows in his little brother's footsteps.
Kostitsyn has a strong wrist shot in his arsenal and has an aggressive nose for the puck in scoring situations. The only knock on him is his motivation and focus, but moving from a team going through a coaching change to an organization that's as steady as can be should help put an end to that. Trotz should have no trouble getting him motivated, especially with his brother around.
The price was very likable on the Preds side as they only gave up a second-round and conditional fifth-round pick both in 2013. There's not much wrong with this deal.
Trade Jerred Smithson to Panthers for Sixth-Round Pick
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Jerred Smithson has been a Nashville Predator for a long, long time. But he was never able to break out offensively and found his way with a far diminished role this season.
Smithson only has 89 points in 529 career games and has only had one season with a positive plus/minus ratio in his career. Although his face-off ability is admirable, he will always be remembered in Nashville for his game-winning goal in Game 5 against Anaheim during last season's playoff run.
All good things must come to an end. The Preds had to make an upgrade at Smithson's position if they want to be stronger from top to bottom and have more scoring threats.
Paul Gaustad and a Fourth-Round Pick for a First-Round Pick
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With the Rick Nash deal not coming to fruition as the deadline approached, Nashville's front office was scrambling and calling around in order to add some forward depth and face-off skill to replace Smithson.
A call to Buffalo helped fill that void.
Paul Gaustad may not be a top-six forward, but the Preds already added Andrei Kostitsyn. Gaustad, who finished in the top-10 in face-off percentage in each of the last three seasons, has a moderate 17 points on the season with the Sabres.
Losing the first-round pick definitely hurts Nashville, but it sets the tone that the time is now for them to win the Cup.
Not Giving Up a King's Ransom for Rick Nash
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The Nashville City Paper reported on the eve of the trade deadline that the Preds had made an offer for Rick Nash, the most valued commodity on the trading block this season.
The Preds offered Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis, Teemu Laakso and the 2012 first-round pick that was eventually spent on the Gaustad deal.
Wilson, a former seventh-overall pick in 2008, has the capability of being on Nashville's top line someday. Ellis has been deemed as the next franchise defenseman to step in if Suter or Weber were unable to go.
Both Wilson and Ellis have shown their through-the-roof potential this season and could be Nashville's most valuable skaters in a few years.
It's unclear if the offer wasn't monumental enough or if Music City not being on Nash's list of preferred destinations was the deal breaker. Nash would have been a huge get for the Preds, but it was a steep price and Columbus may have been asking for it to be steeper.
Grade (for not executing the deal): B+