Since their 13-3 run from Nov. 18 to Dec. 16, the Nashville Predators have been a model of inconsistency.
They’ve alternated wins and losses with regularity in the five-plus weeks since, never winning more than two games in a row with a three-game losing streak along the way.
But as the Predators near the March 8 trade deadline, general manager Barry Trotz must decide if his present-day roster needs some tweaking for a potential late-April playoff run or if the .500 hockey the Predators have played following the Christmas break is the best this team is capable of.
Either way, expect the Predators to be active once the trade deadline gets closer.
“I spent the whole time on this last (road) trip phoning different general managers,” Trotz said during a recent radio appearance on 102.5 The Game. “They’ve been doing the same thing, but I’d be ready to do something and they’re not because they don’t have cap space. It’s one of those things, so it’s trying to find the right fit. I think we’re going to be able to do a couple of things at the trade deadline.”
Trotz has spoken to multiple teams regarding Tyson Barrie, however, a deal hasn’t been struck yet because he hasn’t been able to make the financials work with many of the interested parties being close to the cap floor.
The Predators have also received interest in goaltender Kevin Lankinen, but he’s more likely to fetch a draft pick or two instead of a player who can help the team score right now.
There were some rumblings last month about Fabbro possibly being moved as part of a package for a scorer, but those have since died down as well.
“I think he’s got people calling about some of his defensemen,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told 102.5 The Game on Friday. “I think it’s extremely unlikely he’s going to move Saros; he’d have to be blown away. But I think he’s got some guys calling about some of his defensemen and he’s going to have the opportunity to say, ‘Do we want to keep them or what do people offer me?’ I think he kind of likes being in that position.”
The Predators have done their share of roster tinkering over the last few weeks.
Cody Glass, Dante Fabbro, Kiefer Sherwood, Philip Tomasino and Barrie have all been healthy scratches for one or more games, and 22-year-old forward Juuso Parssinen was sent to the AHL to find his confidence.
Forward Denis Gurianov was recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals shortly after the new year, but his one goal and two points in nine games hasn’t exactly supplemented the team’s need for secondary scoring — something Trotz is on-record stating he’s looking to upgrade.
Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist have accounted for 52 of the team’s 145 goals (35.8%) and 129 of the team’s 385 points (33.5%), so it’s possible Trotz could be eyeing some of the forwards reportedly on the trade block like Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko, Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras or Calgary’s Elias Lindholm.
“People are asking, ‘Are you a buyer of seller?’ and I can’t really tell them yet,” Trotz added. “I think my best answer is the players always let you know whether you’re a buyer or seller based on their play and based on where they are in terms of the standings. If they get on one of these heaters, I’m going to supply them with something for sure.
“But if we’re just middling and probably aren’t going to get in (to the playoffs), then I probably will move some pieces for some assets and we’ve got some good people in the minors. Our farm team in Milwaukee is in first place and they’re probably the youngest team in the American Hockey League and there are some guys who I’d say are due for a (look). We’ll probably do that in the second half if we can.”
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