The Nashville Predators are by all accounts looking to make some significant changes to their roster this summer.
David Poile said as much in his final postseason press conference, saying “we have some areas that we need to address” after discussing the team’s disappointing first round loss to the Dallas Stars.
Given David Poile’s comments, it’s unlikely that the 2019-20 roster is identical to the 2018-19 roster. With that said, here are three players that could most likely be traded away from the Predators this summer.
Much of the focus the past few days has been on the possibility of the Preds trading away P.K. Subban, most of this fueled by non-local hockey media. But no one who has the inside track on David Poile’s intentions has said the team plans on trading P.K. Subban.
However, there is one blueliner that could be traded and that’s Ryan Ellis.
I’ve already written about how the Preds should consider breaking up the “big four.” Trading Ryan Ellis seems to be the easiest way to make that happen, for several reasons.
One, even with a sub-par season by Nashville’s standards, Ryan Ellis still had a very good year as a defenseman. He finished with a career high 34 assists and a career high 41 points on the season. His disappointing 4.7 shooting percentage led to only 7 goals on the year, but he still managed to hold his own in the offensive end.Ellis’s defensive play was questionable (as was the whole defense’s) and that shouldn’t be ignored. But Ellis is still a quality offensive defenseman in the league. He ranked 23rd in assists among all NHL defensemen and 27th in points. That still makes him a bonafide top four defensemen on virtually any team in the league.
The other reason the Preds could trade Ellis is his contract. He probably has the most team friendly contract that another team would be willing to take on. Ellis just recently signed an eight-year, $50 million contract extension that kicks in this season. Unlike Subban’s mammoth $9 million a year price tag, Ellis only costs $6.25 million per year. That’s a very good price for a legit top four blueliner.
Plus, Ellis’s contract does not contain a no-move clause. This makes his contract more enticing for prospective buyers who might be leery of an eight-year term.
Plenty of teams will be looking for defensive help this summer. In particular, teams like Toronto, Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Philadelphia need to upgrade their blueline. All these teams also have intriguing offensive prospects that the Predators might be interested in.
This is going to be the hardest sales job of David Poile’s career. But I think it needs to happen.
No one is quite sure what happened with Turris between being a 50-60 point top six center in Ottawa and being an absolute liability in Nashville, but at this point it may be too late for a diagnosis. After his worst season in almost ten years in the league, it’s probably time to find a way to unload his undesirable contract.
Of course, the key issue is here is the buyer. Who will be willing to take on five more years of an under performing and likely unhealthy $6 million center?
One team that stands out as an option for any NHL team wanting to shed salary on aging players or undesirable contracts is the same team that drafted Kyle Turris, the Arizona Coyotes. Could the Predators package Turris along with a prospect (or draft picks) in order to free themselves of $30 million over the next five years?
There’s no doubt that the Coyotes would be willing to listen to offers here. The Coyotes and general manager John Chayka both have a history of acquiring bad contracts in exchange for good young prospects (or just to meet the salary cap floor). In 2016, Chayka acquired Pavel Datsyuk from the Red Wings, even though Datsyuk was headed to the KHL. He acquired a first round pick for taking on Datsyuk’s contract. I could see a similar situation with Kyle Turris going to Arizona along with a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
Though Nick Bonino had a decent year for the Predators, his trade value might be the highest it’s been since arriving in Nashville in the summer of 2017.
Nick Bonino wasn’t the worst contract David Poile ever signed (or even the worst one discussed in this article) at four years, $16 million. But for what Bonino brings to the team, Poile definitely overpaid to get him. It’s no fault of his own, though, as the dearth of centers on the market in 2017 left him essentially no choice.
Bonino finished with 35 points on the season, not a terrible season for a bottom six center. He scored 17 goals, though he shot well above his career average in order to get there. He also helped round out one of the better 3rd lines on the Predators in the last few seasons.
But if the Predators are going to take the next step, they need more offensive punch in their bottom six.
Trading Nick Bonino would most likely be a “hockey trade” where the Preds find a trade partner with complimentary needs and a complimentary player in return. Think Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen in 2016, where both teams got what they needed. I could see Bonino going to a team with offensive surplus and a need for defensive improvement. Perhaps he goes back to Anaheim? Detroit, Edmonton, and New Jersey are also possibilities.