After a hectic offseason, the Predators had high expectations for the 2019-20 season and were supposed to be among the top teams in the Central Division again. Currently, they sit in second to last place in that division with 59 points in 55 games. However, they do have four games in hand and five fewer points than the Arizona Coyotes, who currently hold the second wildcard spot in a significantly weaker Western Conference than in years past.
GM David Poile is one of the smartest general managers in hockey, and our data suggested that Nashville tremendously improved this offseason. However, given their current situation, Nashville appears to be a team that could go either route come trade deadline day. They could accept the fact that they aren’t having the type of season they expected, and therefore ship out their pending unrestricted free agents like Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, and Dan Hamhuis; or, they could use their draft capital and solid prospects to gear up for a playoff push. Since the coaching change, Nashville has a 7-6 record which is among the worst records of teams that made coaching changes this season.
Should they decide to sell, Granlund and Smith would both garner a fair amount of trade interest, as both players have above average career AB scores (Smith +0.99 and Granlund +1.88 respectively). Smith is coming off three positive AB seasons in a row, with a career-best +5.77 score in 2017-2018, and hasn’t had an extremely negative season since the first two years of his career (-3.19, -3.68). He is 2nd on the team in +/- at +16 and has an even penalty taken to drawn ratio at 9:9. Granlund is coming off a career-worst AB score season at -0.99, which still isn’t even awful compared to other players in the league. Before last season, Granlund posted his two highest scores of his career with a +7.48 in 2016-2017 and a +3.82 in 2017-2018. Granlund is among the better players on the team at drawing penalties, as he has drawn 3 more than he has taken this season with a ratio of 12:9. Both of these players would be solid acquisitions for any contending team looking to buy and could fetch Nashville high draft picks, or decent prospects to help them contend again next season.
Should they decide to buy, they could be players in the goaltending market, as Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros both are posting career lows in GAA and save percentage. Some goalies they could look at are Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, or Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, as there are rumors that he may be on his way out in LA. We think that Nashville will go the seller’s route at the deadline, but it will be interesting to see what Poile and his group decide to do in the next several weeks leading up to deadline day. More to come.