Michael Grabner would be a match made in heaven with Nashville Predators

Michael Grabner #40 of the Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Michael Grabner #40 of the Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /
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Michael Grabner would be a great fit for the Nashville Predators.

As we edge closer and closer to the start of the 2020-21 NHL season next week, more and more Free Agents are coming off the board but one notable name remains in Michael Grabner, and he would tick a lot of boxes for the Nashville Predators.

It was a tough offseason for those players hitting the open market with the full, grim effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the National Hockey League laid fully bare, with teams reluctant to spend cash they didn’t have to in a flat cap world.

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As a result, many notable names remained unsigned as Training Camps opened last week and, while we have seen a lot of Free Agents find new homes, that isn’t the case for Grabner who is still sitting out there all on his own.

Now, it is worth remembering that Grabner has made it clear that he will wait until the 2020-21 season begins before making a decision on his next move, while retirement may not be out of the equation if a situation doesn’t tickle the veteran’s fancy.

But, should Grabner decide that he wants to put the skates back on and have one more kick at the can, then the Nashville Predators would make a hell of a lot of sense as the next destination for the winger for a number of reasons.

For starters, the Preds still have $5,142,190 in cap space that they can weaponize and Grabner won’t cost the earth, with a team-friendly and short-term deal more likely at this point.

It is feasible to predict that the veteran could be willing to accept a one year deal between $1 million and $2 million, leaving Nashville still under the $81.5 salary cap with some money left to play with.

There is also a need for Grabner for the Predators too when you look at their roster, which is incredibly top heavy but they do appear to have somewhat of a soft underbelly underneath that loaded top-six forward unit.

Granted, the Preds do have young forward Eeli Tolvanen and veteran Brad Richardson, who was signed to a one-year, $1 million deal in the offseason, who can play on the right wing on that third line, but you could move either to the left wing or even play Grabner there.

And Grabner would offer something different to this team in that he’s still one of the fastest players in the league, he’s a physical presence who can lay the body on, he’s an exceptional skater, he’s skilled and he’s still a scoring threat.

Grabner’s production has dipped over the last couple of years, yes, with the forward recording 11 points (8 G, 3 A) in 46 regular season games in 2019-20 for the Arizona Coyotes after putting up 36 points in 2017-18.

However, the 33-year-old dealt with a lot of injuries during his time in Arizona, including a gruesome eye injury that could have ended his career, so if he can remain healthy then he’s still capable of producing 20-25 points in a bottom-six role.

Michael Grabner (40)
Arizona Coyotes left wing Michael Grabner (40). Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Then there’s the X-Factor.

Thanks to his blistering speed and ability to shoot the puck, coupled with his slick hands, Grabner is still one of the most potent shorthanded threats in the entire National Hockey League.

He’s good for a few breakaways a game and he could be a real lethal weapon on the penalty kill for the Nashville Predators, perhaps forming a strong partnership with center Luke Kunin to help revitalize a PK unit that ranked 29th in the NHL in 2019-20 (76.1).

Grabner would also be ideal on a third-line with Kunin and maybe Erik Haula or Richardson, and he could be used in all situations while providing much-needed depth, something that will be crucial in a condensed 56-game schedule in 2020-21.

Yes, there is a lot of wear and tear on that perfectly sculptured body and that may cause some teams to ask how much Grabner really has left in the tank, or how much more punishment he’s willing and able to take.

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If, however, Michael Grabner wants to give it one more go then the Nashville Predators would be wise to really kick the tyres on a player who would bolster their special teams, add some speed and depth to that lineup and help provide some much-needed secondary scoring.

With cap space to use and in need of bouncing back in 2020-21, the Nashville Predators really haven’t got anything to lose.