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Predators Should Prepare To Make A Roster Splash This Summer

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Photo of Elias Pettersson by John Russell/Nashville Predators

I’ve previously discussed the state of the Nashville Predators franchise, briefly outlined how the team should proceed as the March 8 trade deadline approaches and broke down the team’s goaltending situation and what I believe should be the path forward between the pipes.

Now, it’s time to get into some splashy moves that can be made over the summer, tying together everything that’s been previously discussed and providing a blueprint for the offseason.

The Predators shouldn’t wait to think about answering the big questions. I’m all for building a perennial contender and not focusing on smaller-scale moves.

Which is why general manager Barry Trotz should make a bold decision this summer and offer sheet a potential franchise player — a decision that ties together with the offloading of depth pieces to create roster flexibility plus add prospects/draft picks.

Sure, it can be debated whether the depth pieces the Predators have hold much value in a return, but the return is not really the point.

Nashville has been loading up on draft picks since last trade deadline. They are a major commodity, but they serve more than one purpose. This is the perfect time to put some of the Predators’ stockpile (they have all of their own draft picks for the first five rounds in the next three drafts) to use as ammunition to satisfy any offer sheet requirement they would have to fulfill.

An offer sheet permits any team to offer a contract to certain restricted free agents, and if that contract proposal is accepted by the player and not matched by the team who holds that player’s rights, that team will receive a specified number of draft picks as compensation for losing the player depending on the average annual salary of the contract calculated from the number of years in the offer sheet contract or five years, whichever is less.

That said, this summer may be the perfect opportunity for the Predators to offer sheet a game-changing forward like Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks. Pettersson, 25, had 102 points in 80 games last season, and he’s on pace to eclipse the 100-point mark once again this season. He’s the kind of player Trotz could build the franchise around. 

If Nashville wants to enter the playoff contender conversation, it has to be willing to take those big swings. Because Pettersson’s rights are currently owned by Vancouver, Nashville can only offer a seven-year contract as opposed to the eight years Vancouver can offer, but it could offer as high as $12.5M per season over seven years with a full-no trade clause.

This would place the young Swedish center between fellow countrymen William Nylander, who recently re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for eight years with an $11.5M AAV, and Auston Matthews, who also re-signed with the Leafs for four years with a $13.25M AAV.

I’m not a fan of no-trade clauses, but sometimes they’re a necessary evil. Nashville needs to make an offer that Vancouver cannot match, and a NTC could help it get there. Of course, Pettersson would have to agree to leave Vancouver, but if Nashville throws that kind of money at him, he could be open to the idea.

I know some will argue that an internal cap hit should be established to be under what the captain, Roman Josi, makes ($9.059M per year) or Filip Forsberg ($8.5M). They both are excellent players, but the Predators need a franchise-altering forward, and it’ll cost them.

This also shouldn’t be looked at as another Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene 8×8 deal,  that could burn the team down the line. Nashville would be paying for a 25-year-old franchise-changing center who can lead the way for the Milwaukee 6 (Egor Afanasyev, Joakim Kemell, Fedor Svechkov, Spencer Stastney, Marc Del Gaizo and Yaroslav Askarov).

If Pettersson were to accept the Predators’ offer sheet, they’d be required to give Vancouver their next four first-round picks.

Even with the subtraction of those picks, Nashville would still have (without any further trades to acquire more selections) 10 picks in 2024, six picks in 2025, including Tampa Bay’s first-rounder, and six selections in 2026.

A situation like this is why former GM David Poile armed Trotz with so much draft capital on his way out the door. I would give up four first-rounders for Pettersson every day of the week.

Other potential offer-sheet targets, though not in the same league as Pettersson, include Carolina Hurricanes winger Martin Necas, 25, New Jersey Devils winger Dawson Mercer, 22, Florida Panthers center Anton Lundell, 22, and Philadelphia Flyers center Morgan Frost, 24.

Both Necas and Mercer have been discussed already as potential trade targets for the Predators, but it may make more sense to try and trade for these players though because they would likely be available at the right price, whereas it’s rare that a player like Pettersson is ever available. He has to be taken.

Additionally, as long as the Predators maintain their own draft picks, multiple offer sheets can be sent and also accepted as long as they have the requisite picks to use. I understand many support the idea of rebuilding through the draft, and this doesn’t mean it’s not the case for the Predators; however, offer sheets can be used to help expedite the process.

Acquiring a young game-changer like Pettersson places less pressure on the young talent coming through Milwaukee to produce immediately in the NHL, and it also places them with talented players who could help elevate those around them as opposed to randomly trying to match youth with depth in the current roster dynamic, which is not producing consistent results.

This summer is the perfect time for Trotz to use an offer sheet to his advantage, which would be the first time in franchise history one would be used, though Nashville did match an offer sheet to Shea Weber in 2012.

The salary cap should consistently increase going forward, and after the 2025-26 season, the dead cap hits are all expired except for one more season of Kyle Turris ($2M) and three more seasons of Matt Duchene ($1.55M). That valuation is easily managed in the short term at that point. 

Trotz has said several times he’s building a team to compete consistently in the future; this is how he should do it — by being bold, decisive, and making the moves that are necessary to permit head coach Andrew Brunette to do what he was brought to Nashville to do: create explosive offense and put butts back in the seats.

Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10

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