The Nashville Predators are less than two weeks away from officially beginning the Barry Trotz era, albiet he’s already been calling most of the shots with soon-to-be former general manager David Poile advising him as he eases into his new role as GM.
While the Predators have 13 picks at their disposal, it’s tough to predict what Trotz will do in the draft or which trades he’s possibly eyeing to improve the roster. One move that has been discussed in recent weeks involves potentially trading goaltender Juuse Saros, who’s been at the center of trade speculation for much of the offseason.
During an appearance on 102.5 The Game on Wednesday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman provided some insight on what the trade market for Saros is and how serious the Predators are about actually parting with their star goalie.
“I really believe that the Saros calls were initiated by other teams and not by [Nashville],” Friedman said. “…If you look at what they did, things around the deadline — it was very clear that they were unafraid and were willing to take bold swings.
“When you’re doing that, teams call you because they aren’t doing their job if they don’t. I think it was a situation where teams like the Kings, that are looking for goaltending, called and asked what it costs for Saros. Now, there’s a lot of goaltenders on the market, so teams are doing their due diligence.”
Nashville Hockey Now confirmed that the Los Angeles Kings inquired about trading for Saros prior to the trade deadline in February. The consensus seems to be that the Predators are not inclined to move the 28-year-old Finn, but that doesn’t mean they would shy away from listening to what other teams had to offer.
Friedman also divulged that he expects all 32 clubs to be active during draft week, whether that be trying to find trade partners or moving into position to select their players of the future.
“It takes two to tango,” Friedman said regarding the possibility of trades between now and Wednesday’s first round. “The one thing is that some people’s strategy is to wait and delay. We’ll see if anyone decides to go now or if they decide another week is good. The old Lou Lamoriello strategy; if you’ve got time use it.”
“I think they’ve looked into it… It’s hard to do it right now. That’s going to be hard to do this offseason but not impossible.”
Elliotte on if the #Preds have looked in to moving one of the $8 million players.
— Nick Kieser 🏒 (@KieserNick) June 21, 2023
Regarding potential moves for the Predators, they have been exploring other deals beyond the ones they made at the trade deadline when they moved on from four everyday players (Mattias Ekholm, Tanner Jeannot, Nino Niederreiter and Michael Granlund) and acquiring nine draft picks, signaling that Nashville was — and likely still is — open for business.
The Predators could also look to move on from high-priced players like Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene, both of whom make $8 million per season — contracts that are difficult to find a suitor willing take on.
— Michael Gallagher (@MGsports_) June 21, 2023
Nashville offloaded Granlund to the Pittsburgh Penguins without retaining any salary, but the team had to retain four percent of defenseman Mattias Ekholm’s salary, which will count $250,000 against the cap for the next three seasons.
A buyout for a player like Johansen seems unlikely. If Nashville chose that avenue, the 30-year-old centerman would be owed $2.6 million over the next four seasons, and the immediate cap relief would be $5.3 million over the next two years, which could be used to find more help on offense.
The Predators are already paying Kyle Turris $2 million through the 2027-28 season to not play for them.
While it’s tough to predict what Trotz will do one he walks into Bridgestone Arena next Wednesday for the Draft, he likely believes he’s well-positioned to leave with some difference makers with seven picks inside the top 83 selections.
“I’ve challenged our amateur scouts to get top forward players for this franchise in the next two drafts,” he said.
Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter: @KieserNick
(Photo of Juuse Saros by David Russell for Nashville Hockey Now)