The Nashville Predators are in win-now mode. They are also one of the most well-run teams in the league. They have cap space, good contracts for good players, a halfway decent farm system, and all of their first round picks. They also need some forward depth up front, specifically in the middle-six.
The Cody McLeod –and Cole Schneider– trade aside, which doesn’t move the needle for the Preds, the Rangers have three interesting pieces that would fit their needs in Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello. Sick about hearing about these three in trade rumors? Don’t worry, after Monday you won’t, at least not for two of them.
The Predators actually have solid depth at center, so my guess is they’d be looking at top-six wingers. That may leave Kevin Hayes off their target list, and focusing on either a pure rental in Zucc or two playoff runs with Kreider. It is worth noting that Kreider for two playoff runs at 50% retained has some pretty massive value.
Rumors are abound that the Predators are willing to part with Eeli Tolvanen, who was the prized prospect last year. He’s had an admittedly slot transition to the North American game, which is causing some concern. The numbers aren’t sexy, but it’s not all about the transition.
Tolvanen is generating over 2.5 SOG/GP but only shooting 9.5% when someone with his shooting talent should be around 15%. His transition to NA hasn’t been smooth but he’s also being unlucky.
— Tobias Pettersson (@ManUtdTobbe) February 20, 2019
There is no denying Tolvanen’s skill. As noted above, it’s highly unlikely that Tolvanen is on the table for Zucc, and landing him in a Zucc deal is a huge win. I’d imagine he’d be the main piece in any Kreider deal though, along with a first round pick. Or, and just spitballing here, Tolvanen could be the centerpiece of a Zucc/Hayes package to Nashville.
Beyond Tolvanen, there’s Dante Fabbro, currently with BU. He’s a very smart defenseman with great vision and passing ability. He compares out to early Anton Stralman, with the skating and passing to transition the play, but may not have the offensive impact that Stralman had with Tampa.
While Fabbro isn’t quite NHL ready, Frederic Allard, currently playing well with Milwaukee –Nashville’s AHL affiliate– could be a closer to ready target. He’s certainly more offensively inclined that Fabbro, but less adept in his own end. He’s a right-handed shot as well.
Anthony Richard (LW, 21 years old) currently leads Milwaukee in scoring. Patrick Harper (LW, 20 years old), Fabbro’s teammate at BU, is small but has potentially elite level skill. He’s more of a project acquisition. The rest of the system is filled with bottom-six and bottom-pairing potential.
Nashville’s eyes are likely on Winnipeg and what they do, and Jeff Gorton has an interesting opportunity to pit the top two teams in the West against each other at the deadline. Gorton is on record saying he has no problem waiting until Monday’s deadline to make a move, so we shall see if the Preds and Rangers hook up for a third time in three months for a trade.