Nashville Predators: Why the trade deadline cost them

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 31: Nashville Predators right wing Ryan Hartman (38) during a pause in the play during a NHL game between the Washington Capitals and the Nashville Predators on December 31, 2018, at Capital One Arena, in Washington D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 31: Nashville Predators right wing Ryan Hartman (38) during a pause in the play during a NHL game between the Washington Capitals and the Nashville Predators on December 31, 2018, at Capital One Arena, in Washington D.C.(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the Nashville Predators must reflect and realize that their additions at the deadline cost them a chance of winning the Stanley Cup.

The Nashville Predators were the most active team at the NHL Trade Deadline. They went out and acquired Brian Boyle, Cody McLeod, Wayne Simmonds, and Mikael Granlund. Of all of these acquisitions, none of them were difference makers or necessities. In fact, some may argue these trades actually hurt the Predators.

One of the first moves Nashville made was acquiring Boyle from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a second-round draft pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. While he only played three games in the playoffs with Nashville, Boyle did contribute by registering two assists. Although he was only able to play three games, he was arguably the best addition Nashville made at the deadline.

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Predators general manager David Poile felt the need to bring back McLeod to fill a vacated enforcer role, as Zac Rinaldo was injured at the time. Also, the return of Austin Watson was uncertain.

The Predators acquired McLeod from the Rangers in exchange for a 2019 seventh-round draft pick. In theory, this move made sense as Nashville desperately needed a tough guy and a fourth line grinder to compete in the playoffs. However, McLeod never played a game in the playoffs even though he could have been greatly utilized.

It is hard to grasp why the Predators felt the need to get an enforcer for the playoffs if they did not even play McLeod. Although the series was the least physical series in the playoffs, Nashville could have used McLeod to protect the smallest player in the league in Rocco Grimaldi and other players like Arvidsson. Since the Predators failed to utilize McLeod, they practically wasted away a seventh-round draft pick.

The worst move that Poile made at the deadline was trading Ryan Hartman and a draft pick to the Flyers for Simmonds. Hartman, 24-years-old, has two goals, one assist, and 24 penalty minutes in 13 career playoff games played. Comparatively, Simmonds, 30-years-old, has eight goals, 13 assists and 106 penalty minutes in 43 career playoff games played.

While his numbers are decent in the playoffs, the Predators gave up too much to acquire a 30-year-old who is set to be a UFA this offseason. They gave up Hartman, who is a young player that they traded a first-round pick to acquire two years ago in a trade with Chicago. Not only is he young and was an expensive investment by the Predators, but he had his second-best season in points in the 2018-19 season with 26.

In 17 regular season games with Nashville, Simmonds recorded one goal, two assists and nine penalty minutes (.18 points per game). However, in the playoffs, he only played two games and had no points or any penalty minutes. During the playoffs, Simmonds suffered a knee injury which sat him out one game. For the last two games of the series against Dallas, he was listed as a healthy scratch.

Poile’s big trade for Simmonds ended up being a bust as Hartman easily outperformed Simmonds since being traded. In 19 regular season games with Philadelphia, he scored two goals, added four assists and clocked 30 penalty minutes (.32 points per game).

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While some may say Hartman’s playing style did not fit with Nashville, then they must question their scouts and GM as they scouted Hartman in Chicago and felt he would be a good fit and worth trading a first-round pick to acquire. Fans must also realize that Hartman only had 85 games to prove himself in Nashville, but in that time he produced more points than Salomaki, Turris, Jarnkrok, Grimaldi, Watson, Gaudreau, and more.

Trading for Simmonds was surprising given the fact that Simmonds’ 2018-19 campaign was the worst in points (30) for him since the 2010-11 season (30). With Simmonds likely to leave Nashville and test the free agency market, management must question if trading a young player in Hartman (whose numbers are on the rise) for a veteran (whose numbers are on the decline), who only played in two games and did not contribute in any way, was worth it.

The last trade that Nashville made was trading Kevin Fiala (who’s 22 years old) to the Minnesota Wild for Mikael Granlund (27 years old).  This move was absolutely idiotic as Fiala was productive in the playoffs last year with four points in 12 games last season.

While Granlund is a good player, trading a 22-year-old in Fiala, who was coming off a 48 point season, for a 27-year-old coming off a 67 point season and is a pending UFA is crazy. Although Granlund’s numbers are good as a 27-year-old with 398 games played, he still was not near Fiala’s numbers at 22-years-old. When he was 22, he was in his third season with the Wild and only had 39 points that season, compared to Fiala’s 48 points.

There was no questioning that Nashville was in the ‘win now’ mindset, but trading a potential star in Kevin Fiala, who is on pace to surpass Granlund’s numbers at that age, for an older and possibly less talented player is incredibly foolish.  It would have made more sense for Nashville to try to strengthen their third line defensive pairing or bottom six forwards instead of trading a top six forward.

Nashville’s trade deadline moves did cost them the playoffs as they traded for veteran, non-factors and gave away their youth and future. Going into the offseason, Nashville now has to battle the salary cap and try to retain the players they just acquired in McLeod, Boyle, and Simmonds  (all of whom are free agents). Meanwhile, Granlund will be one after the 2019-20 season.

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If they do not retain them, they practically lose McLeod, Simmonds, Boyle, Hartman, Fiala, and draft picks, leaving the Predators with nothing from their moves at the deadline.