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Revisiting The Five Best Trades Of The David Poile Era

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David Poile traded for Filip Forsberg in 2013
Photo of forward Filip Forsberg by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Following the 2023 NHL Draft, David Poile retired after 25 years as the general manager of the Nashville Predators, putting a stamp on his Hall of Fame career.

Over the next few weeks, Nashville Hockey Now will reflect back on the last two-and-a-half decades, highlighting the good and not-so-great moments from Poile’s tenure as Predators GM.

As the Predators worked their way from a gritty, expansion team to an esteemed franchise, Poile made a number of praiseworthy trades that helped put the team on the NHL map.

Below are the top five trades in Predators history that were made by Poile:

No. 1 — April 3, 2013

Poile fleeces his former team for Filip Forsberg

Poile finessed his way to acquiring forward prospect Filip Forsberg from the Washington Capitals, who drafted the young Swede 11th overall the previous year. In return, Washington acquired forwards Martin Erat and center prospect Michael Latta.

Forsberg blossomed into the franchise’s career leader in goals (239) and hat tricks (eight), and he’s just 90 points away from catching Roman Josi for the franchise lead in points (601). After one full season in the AHL, Forsberg jumped to the NHL where he’s amassed 511 points in 616 regular season games.

At the time of the trade, Erat informed the Predators that he didn’t want to be part of the organization anymore since reaching the postseason wasn’t in view. Latta was simply a sweetener to entice Washington to part with Forsberg. Erat and Latta combined for just 44 points over a combined 175 games after the trade. Neither were on the Capitals roster past the 2015-16 season.

No. 2 — February 25, 2004

Poile trades AHL defenseman, drafts franchise goaltender

A deal that went under the radar nearly 20 years ago actually produced the best player in franchise history. Nashville acquired an eighth-round selection in the 2004 draft (No. 258 overall) from Tampa Bay for Milwaukee Admirals defenseman Timo Helbling, a sixth-round pick in the 1999 draft.

That pick, of course, was used on a quiet, unassuming Finnish goaltender named Pekka Rinne, whose statue outside Bridgestone Arena faces Broadway and is indicative of the kind of player he was for Nashville and its fans. Finland’s all-time winningest net-minder, Rinne holds several Predators goaltending records including games (683), wins (369), goals-against average (2.43), shutouts (60), and saves (17,627).

After backing up Niklas Bäckström on Karpat in SM-Liiga 2002 through 2004, Rinne joined the Milwaukee Admirals and then made his NHL debut at 23. Current Predators goaltender Juuse Saros needs 223 wins to surpass Rinne as the winningest goalie in team history, but he’ll need to be as consistent or even more so moving forward.

No. 3 — January 6, 2016

Poile parts with franchise blue-liner for a No. 1 center

After searching of a young talented center for years, the Predators took a swing six days into the new year, acquiring center Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Seth Jones, the team’s No. 4 overall pick from 2013.

“Today, in my belief, we accomplished something that we haven’t been able to in 18 years of our history, and that’s to acquire a No. 1 center,” Poile said after initially adding Johansen.

During his time in Nashville, Johansen accumulated 110 goals and 362 points in 533 games before he was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche this summer. He also boasted a face-off winning percentage of 54.1, bested only by Colton Sissons.

Johansen assisted the Predators during several postseason runs, guiding them to the Western Conference Final in 2017 until he suffered a leg injury and needed emergency surgery. He led the Predators with 48 postseason points during his time with the team. Now, the 31-year-old will be a Central Division foe for at least the next two seasons with the Avalanche.

No. 4 — June 29, 2016

Poile trades a sentimental favorite for a superstar defender

In a move just four days after the 2016 draft, the Predators acquired defenseman P.K. Subban from the Montreal Canadiens for longtime captain Shea Weber in a one-for-one swap of elite defensemen.

It was a shocking trade for Poile, who added a larger-than-life personality who was also a previous Norris Trophy winner. Subban made an immediate impact, helping the Predators reach the first-ever Stanely Cup Final in franchise history, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

Subban notched 35 goals and 130 points in 211 regular-season games plus seven goals and 24 points in 41 postseason games before he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils in 2019. The 34-year-old three-time All-Star retired in Sept. 2022 and can now be seen as an analyst on TNT broadcasts.

No. 5 — June 27, 1998

The deal that started it all

The first trade for the Predators went down just before the 1998 draft. Nashville acquired the No. 2 and No. 85 overall picks, which were used to take David Legwand and Geoff Kock, respectively, in exchange for the No. 3 and No. 29 overall picks, which were used on Brad Stuart and Jonathan Cheechoo.

Legwand, Nashville’s first-ever draft selection, spent 15 seasons with the Predators, scoring 210 goals and 566 points while playing in 956 games before being moved to the Detroit Red Wings for Calle Jarnkrok at the 2014 trade deadline. He was passed by Roman Josi last season as the Predators all-time leading scorer, but still holds the franchise record for most games played and he was the team’s longest-tenured player.

A staple in the lineup for the Predators early on, Legwand became a fan favorite rather quickly. Today he’s the president of hockey operations for the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League.

Honorable Mentions:

February 16, 2004: The Predators acquired forward Steve Sullivan from the Chicago Blackhawks for a second-round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (No. 45 overall, Ryan Garlock) and a second-round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (No. 43 overall, Michael Blunden).

Sullivan scored 263 points in 317 games as a Predator. He suffered a back injury in February 2007 that knocked him out of commission for 153 games, sidelining him for 678 days. He needed sports hernia surgery during his last season in Nashville before he went on to sign with the Penguins as a free agent.

February 10, 2011: Nashville acquired center Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2011 first-round pick (No. 21 overall, Stefan Noeson) and a 2012 third-round pick. Fisher, who became Nashville’s captain after Weber was dealt to the Canadiens, scored 111 goals and 241 points in 429 games and 10 goals and 24 points in 71 playoff games with the Predators before retiring in 2018.

February 26, 2023: Nashville acquired a top-1o protected 2025 first-round pick, second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round picks in 2024 plus defenseman Cal Foote from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Tanner Jeannot. Before riding off into the sunset, Poile picked up plenty of draft capital for Trotz on his way out. Jeannot was heading toward restricted free agency after the season and Poile squeezed as much as he could out of the Lightning.

March 1, 2023: Nashville acquired a 2023 second-round pick (No. 46 overall, Kalan Lind) from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Mikael Granlund. Poile was able to move off of Granlund, who’s been traded twice in 158 days, off the books without retaining any of his contract in the process. Lind was one of two prospects who signed his entry-level contract this summer after being drafted by Nashville and is returning back to juniors to play for the Red Deer Rebels.

Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter: @KieserNick