Despite his best efforts, Nashville Predators incoming general manager Barry Trotz couldn’t steamroll his way into the top five of the 2023 NHL Draft.
But he damn sure tried.
Sources told to Nashville Hockey Now that Trotz called several teams picking in the top five multiple times, trying to entice someone — specifically the San Jose Sharks at No. 4 and Montreal Canadiens at No. 5 — to swap picks and clear the way for him to land a franchise-changing center — something he’s said Nashville has never had.
The specifics of what Trotz actually offered to move up aren’t known. But 24 hours later we have a pretty good idea, and it was a lot. So much so that Trotz admitted to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that he at one point asked himself if he was perhaps being too aggressive.
“When you talk about uncomfortable, it’s what you think is over-giving,” Trotz told Lebrun. “The center-ice position — especially with the first four guys — I thought the value was there. And (my offers) fill holes that they were looking for as well. … Again, I will say, I was getting uncomfortable (with some of my offers).”
Trotz knew the price to move from 15 to fourth or fifth overall would be steep. LeBrun believes Trotz offered up his top prospect Yaroslav Askarov, the No. 2-ranked goaltender prospect in the NHL, per The Athletic, along with at least the No. 15 overall pick.
Multiple sources indicated to Nashville Hockey Now that a proposal of Askarov plus the No. 15 and 24 overall picks still wasn’t enough for Montreal to pull the trigger on a trade back. While Askarov’s name was included in trade discussions, it’s not believed that Nashville came close to trading him.
“You’d have to ask the other (GMs) I was talking to (if a deal was close),” Trotz said. “Sometimes, you’re a fish…and the hook was in there.
“I was trying like crazy (to entice a team to trade), but if you look at those four franchises up front, they were pretty (adamant on drafting a player) at the center-ice position. I think all four of those got good quality people to build around. I tried like crazy to get them uncomfortable, but obviously it wasn’t enough.”
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(Photo of Matthew Wood, left, Jeff Kealty, center, and Barry Trotz via John Russell/Nashville Predators)