While trades into the top 10 of the NHL Draft aren’t common, that isn’t stopping incoming Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz from trying to do just that.
Sources have confirmed that Trotz has spoken to several teams picking in the top five about a possible trade, and with 13 draft picks plus a ton of cap space, an argument can be made that the Predators are the draft’s biggest wild card.
Here’s this week’s Nashville Hockey Now mailbag:
Question: What is a reasonable offer for (Alex) DeBrincat? I see Sens fans want either (Juuse) Saros for him straight up (lunacy) or (Yaroslav) Askarov + 1st rounder (likely the higher) + player which also sounds like a lot for a guy that I don’t think they have a linemate to maximize him like Kane. Purely speculating, if Nashville wanted to move up to the top 10, do you think Philly does the 7th for both 1sts and Carrier? I know they’re making a big deal with St. Louis but it sounds like Krug doesn’t want to be there and they might still need a D-man?
MG: As much as I like DeBrincat, he is in no way good enough to trade straight up for Saros. Or Asakarov, for that matter. I think a first rounder should be the minimum ask from Ottawa, which doesn’t pick in the 2023 draft until the fourth round. If I’m the Predators, I offer the 24th overall pick, the 83rd overall pick (third round) and one of Alex Carrier, Fedor Svechkov or Zachary L’Heureux. I think both firsts and Carrier is a little too rich for the No. 7 pick, especially since Trotz has his eye on one of the top five players (Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Will Smith, Eric Carlsson, Matvei Michkov). However, it does seem like Philly is willing to move back, so if Nashville can swing that for 15 plus a second and third and Carrier or a prospect, then maybe it’d be worth the gamble.
Question: What do you think it would take to trade up and pick (Matvei) Michkov at let’s say 5?
MG: After trading for Alex Newhook on Tuesday, Montreal has just one first-round pick and no second rounder. So if draft capital is what the Canadiens want, then perhaps the No. 15 and 24 overall picks plus one of Nashville’s second rounders and a prospect gets it done? Montreal gets two additional draft picks and gains back the first and second rounder it just lost in the Newhook trade.
Question: Which player that is expected to go top 10 has the best chance to slip to the Preds at 15? Will either Andrew Cristall or Quentin Musty be available at 24?
MG: This one is difficult to answer because there’s not really any uniformity between most of the major scouting services on who the top 10 are. But if I had to guess, I’d say either Zach Benson or Oliver Moore. There’s so many unknowns in the top 10 and I could see one or both of those players slipping down the board similar to Joakim Kemell falling to 17 last year. Musty, who played for new Predators assistant coach Derek MacKenzie last season in Sudbury, will probably be gone by 24. Most mock drafts have him in the 15-20 range. Cristall, on the other hand, is projected to go in the 22-28 range, and he should still be available.
Question: If available, should the Preds draft Michkov? Does DeBrincat’s size concern you if the Preds were to trade for him?
MG: If available, as in if he falls to 15? That’s a no-brainer. If you’re asking if he’s worth trading up for, the answer to that is yes too. Depending on where in the top 10 they’d have to move up to get him, it would be a substantial price — something like picks 15, 24, a second, a third and a prospect like L’Heureux or Svechkov. I have zero concerns about DeBrincat’s size. He’s been 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds since he entered the NHL six years ago, and he’s had two 40-goal, 70-point seasons and another 30-goal season. A scorer is a scorer, no matter the size.
Question: What could be the other big trade be for general manager Barry Trotz?
MG: This is the million-dollar question. While I don’t know the specifics, my sources have told me Trotz is gunning hard for a top-five pick. While Bedard is off the table, I’ve heard Trotz would be just as happy with any one of Fantilli, Smith, Carlsson or Michkov — all four have elite scoring and top-six potential. I also would not be surprised if Trotz swung a trade for an impact scorer like DeBrincat or Clayton Keller.
Question: What would be the most realistic trade for Nashville to enter the Top 10 in the draft? For me, I could see a trade happening with Washington.
MG: Honestly, I think Arizona at 6 or Philadelphia at 7 probably make the most sense, especially if the Predators are willing to deal both of their first rounders. If Bedard, Fantilli, Carlsson, Smith and Michkov are all off the board, moving back and ending up with the No. 12, 15 and 24 overall picks plus whatever other sweeteners Nashville throws in could be a desirable deal for the Coyotes.
Question: How many of this year’s draft class do you think make the NHL or AHL next year? Just an educated guess basically.
MG: First, I’ll say that I doubt Nashville makes all 13 of its picks. That said, it’s difficult to predict not knowing who exactly they will draft. If all are junior league players, then none of them will be in the NHL or AHL next year. But with two firsts, two seconds and three thirds, I’d say there’s a decent chance at least one or two of those players will make it to the AHL at some point. After all, Trotz keeps saying Nashville could have six first-round picks playing in Milwaukee next year. One of the team’s first rounders this year could join Svechkov, L’Heureux, Kemell, Askarov and Reid Schaefer.
Question: Do you think Cody Glass can solidify himself as our 1C? And if so, why?
MG: I do think Glass has No. 1-center potential, it’s just a matter of will he be put in a position to prove it? He played really well in a top-line role down the stretch and I think he’s earned the chance to at least start there with Johansen no longer in the picture. Glass is a natural playmaker with high hockey IQ, slick hands and he reads plays quickly. That’s exactly the kind of player I’d think Andrew Brunette wants centering his top line.
Question: When is Cody Glass going to get re-signed?! Is there a hold up or concern?
MG: My understanding is the Predators have been negotiating with Glass’ agent and a deal is expected sometime soon. A new contract is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of the two-year, $3.4 million deal Yakov Trenin got last offseason. I’d guess Glass gets between $2 and $2.5 million per season.
Question: What is the status of the Preds reserve players (Alexander Campbell, Semyon Chistyakov, Anton Olsson, etc.)? Any reason to be excited about any of them? Should we expect any of them to sign ELCs soon?
MG: Campbell transferred to Northeastern in March after wrapping up his junior year at Clarkson University. He hasn’t signed an entry-level contract yet but should after he finishes his college career. Chistyakov signed a new three-year deal with Avangard Omsk in the KHL, so it’s unlikely he makes it to Nashville any time soon. Olsson, who just turned 20, is heading into his fourth season in the Swedish Hockey League. He likely needs a couple more seasons before he comes over to North America. I’d say of the three, Campbell will sign an ELC first.
Question: Assuming (hopefully not) Carrier doesn’t re-sign with Nashville, what does his trade return look like, and who do you expect to step in for his spot?
MG: On his own, Carrier likely doesn’t have much trade value. He’s a 26-year-old restricted free agent with less than two full seasons of NHL experience and coming off a season in which he missed 38 games. We’ve been told there has been no progress between Carrier and the Predators on a new contract, so a trade is certainly on the table. If he is traded, Jake Livingstone, who signed a two-year deal on Tuesday, likely would take his spot.
Question: Top 6 in the first game of the season?
MG: If I’m picking from just players who are on the roster right now, I’d go top line: Forsberg – Glass – Duchene, and second line: Parssinen – Novak – Tomasino. However, I have this gut feeling the Predators will add another top-six forward by the time free agency is over. In that case, my top line would stay the same and I’d move Parssinen to 3C.
Question: With (Ryan) Johansen gone what’s the next big move for Trotz? Does he try and move Duchene before that no move clause kicks in on July 1st or does he try and bring a big name in?
MG: I think Trotz’s next big move is either trading into the top 10 at the draft or using his 13 picks and near $20 million in cap space to lure a premium scorer to Nashville. I don’t think Duchene is going anywhere, at least not this year. With Johansen’s contract off the books, there’s not a pressing need to move Duchene as well. His no-trade clause is just for seven teams, so that doesn’t handicap Nashville that much if it wanted to move him next year. Plus with Brunette taking over, I think there’s some optimism that Duchene can find his 40-goal scoring touch again.
Question: Two part. What % does Nashville trade up in the draft and what % do they do anything besides pick at current selections?
MG: While Trotz is being aggressive in his pursuit of acquiring a top-five draft pick, there’s a good chance that the teams picking in those spots simply won’t budge. I’s day there’s an 85 percent the Predators stay where they’re at and a 15 percent chance they move up.
One Memorabilia Group
Question: How far behind is this franchise from all of Poile’s awful contracts?
MG: Trotz has shown he’s willing to do two things Poile did not: retain salary and not tie up cap space with long-term, high-priced contracts. After trading Johansen, the only “bad” contract on the books is Matt Duchene’s, and he’s only one year removed from a 43-goal season. I think Trotz will be smarter with his cap space than Poile was and the Predators will be better for it.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_
(Photo of Barry Trotz via John Russell/Nashville Predators)