Just hours after trading away the rights to defenseman Dan Hamhuis, the Nashville Predators continued to shake things up, trading away their captain Jason Arnott.
One might wonder what general manager David Poile is up to; especially the Predators fans describing this afternoon as "stunning", "confusing" and "frustrating."
So far today, Poile was able to trade away a defenseman that he was unlikely to re-sign in Dan Hamhuis (based on a full complement of able bodies behind him on the depth chart), for a big-bodied young defender (Ryan Parent) who has yet to capitalize on his physical attributes.
That trade alone had many wondering whether Nashville was going to use a continual surplus of controllable defenders to acquire a dynamic winger to infuse an aging roster on the cusp of a youth movement.
Now it looks like the Preds are preparing for something big as Arnott is on his way to the site of his lone Stanley Cup.
Give the Devils credit: They've gone and acquired a big, strong centreman who's a great leader. Arnott proved that in Nashville while battling through injuries. But in giving up their captain for winger Matt Halischuk and a second round pick next year, the Preds are in a great position moving forward.
If they can capitalize on it.
Looking at Nashville's organizational depth, they have the best selection of young defensemen in the league, both in the NHL (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Cody Franson) and at various stages in the system (Alexander Sulzer, Jonathan Blum, and Ryan Ellis).
Down the middle, Nashville has plenty of young players that need the ice time for their development. Without Arnott, Colin Wilson, Cal O'Reilly, and Andreas Thuresson now have a chance to strut their stuff and battle to become the feature pivot in the Music City.
It's down the wing however, that you could argue Nashville's depth isn't as prominent.
Sure Patric Hornqvist scored 30 goals this year, but he was the only Predator to break that barrier. In fact, he was just one of two (Martin Erat—21) on the team to score more than 20.
Although Blake Geoffrion has now committed to professional hockey and Taylor Beck had a 35-point improvement in the OHL this year, they needed another player that could have an impact at the NHL level. If he can avoid injuries, that player is Matt Halischuk.
But this trade is more about what we could see happen to Nashville's roster, rather than the former Kitchener Ranger.
Nashville now has the money to go out and spend in free agency, freeing up about $4.5-million for next season (And that's not even counting other potential moves either. Winger Steve Sullivan could be attractive to other teams this off-season as well, as his contract is up following 2010-11). All in all there's about $11-million to spend before signing Franson, Hornqvist, and Thuresson to new deals.
For O'Reilly and Wilson, signing a swingman with panache like Patrick Marleau could solve the offensive woes in Nashville and give the two a solid mentor. It would also help replace some of the lost leadership.
Or you could look the trade route, with the Predators not having to look far. In their own division alone the Chicago Blackhawks need help to get out from under the cap, and the Preds may be willing to risk helping a foe down the road if it kicks the offense into gear today.
Nashville has gotten plenty younger in just a day's work, which is how teams are winning lately in the NHL. Now David Poile has the financial ability to augment those younger pieces with an established scorer—much like the Blackhawks did with Marian Hossa last year.
Realistically, this team is a couple of offensive players away from being a contender to go deep into the playoffs. They just need to be ready to do something to cover that remaining distance.
Whatever they're considering though, Nashville now finds itself in the driver's seat for the 2010 offseason.
It's time to floor it.
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