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Roundtable: How Should The Predators Approach The Trade Deadline?



Photo of Alex Carrier by John Russell/Nashville Predators

With the NHL trade deadline one week away, the Nashville Hockey Now staff decided to examine the state of the Nashville Predators (34-25-2, 70 points) and which players may or may not be on the move.

Our panel of Predators writers weighed in on some of the Predators most burning questions as they approach the March 8 trade deadline.

1. Aside from Tyson Barrie, which player on the Nashville roster would you absolutely trade this year?

Michael Gallagher: Kevin Lankinen. I believe Lankinen’s trade value will never be higher than it is right now, and the Predators could bring back a strong return (likely a second-rounder or a late-round pick plus a B-level prospect) for him from a goaltender-needy team while opening the door for top prospect Yaroslav Askarov, who is very much NHL ready, to get more meaningful minutes.

Clay Brewer: Alex Carrier. We’ve known for some time that he’s garnered interest across the league. It’s important to cash in on some of the more valuable impending UFAs, especially when replacements are already in the pipeline. As I have written previously, the decision, in my opinion, comes to who you like more long-term for the team: Carrier or Dante Fabbro?

With Carrier being a UFA this summer and Fabbro an RFA, Nashville likely can’t afford to keep both, in my opinion, nor should it. Both were given one-year prove it deals and the Predators need to choose. It’s possible I’m in the minority, but I’m a Fabbro fan, especially when he’s playing alongside Roman Josi. Additionally, Carrier is also likely to bring more value on the trade market. I would even look to the possible suitors being interested in Kevin Lankinen as well. Just a thought.

Russell Vannozzi: I’m not putting anyone in the “must-trade” category. It might be sensible for the Predators to stand pat or even make a small buy at the deadline if they continue their hot streak. But for the sake of this exercise, I’ll say Alex Carrier.

He’s a pending UFA who may not return with Milwaukee defensemen Marc Del Gaizo and Spencer Stastney seemingly ready for NHL ice time. Carrier, who somehow managed a plus-1 rating in Nashville’s disastrous 9-2 loss to Dallas on Feb. 15, could be a valuable addition for any team looking to shore up its defense corps.

2. Which player would you go all-in on trying to acquire?

MG: Hands down, Trevor Zegras. And acquiring him would be a move not just for this year but for the future as well. General manager Barry Trotz has said he can find third- and fourth-liners all day, but he’s interested in finding the kind of game-changing forward that’s eluded the franchise for so long.

Zegras is only 22 and he already has two 20-goal, 60-point seasons. Anaheim has made it clear it wants to get rid of him, and with all the draft picks David Poile stockpiled for Trotz on his way out, the Predators likely have the right combination of draft capital, roster players and prospects to make a deal happen.

CB: Now that Andrei Kuzmenko has been dealt to the Calgary Flames, I would sit out this deadline. I love Dawson Mercer, for example, but unless he’s a piece of something bigger, I would sit tight and wait until the summer to make my moves. There’s plenty of young talent out there, including Mercer, that would be ripe for an offer sheet.

RV: Nic Dowd. It’s not exactly an all-in move, but the 33-year-old center is known for his prowess on the penalty kill, where Nashville ranks 27th and could use more help. Dowd (16 points in 45 games) would be a solid addition to the Predators’ bottom six for the rest of this season and next (he carries just a $1.3 million cap hit in 2024-25). As an added bonus, Dowd hails from nearby Huntsville, Alabama.

3. Aside from Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi, which player on the Predators roster is off limits for you in any trade?

MG: No one. Forsberg and Josi are clearly the Predators’ two best skaters, but there’s no one else on the roster that couldn’t be had for the right price. The only player that might come close for me is Luke Evangelista, who’s had a solid 11 goals and 27 points in 59 games. He’s young enough and has the kind of playmaking ability you want out of a top-six forward, but he may still be a year or two away from reaching that potential.

CB: While the question asks for one, I’ll throw out two because they are equally important in their own right for the future of the Predators: Ryan O’Reilly and Ryan McDonagh. Both players are “serial winners” as Trotz likes to say, and both have really set the tone in the locker room for the younger guys.

Both players are foundational pieces for the rest of their contracts to get the Predators and the youth moving in a positive direction. They’re strong, veteran voices who are needed day in and day out, and they’re core pieces that are needed to get this team to the next level, especially mentally.

RV: Ryan O’Reilly. If the Predators were to deal their top-line center, they would be waving the white flag on the season. O’Reilly has provided plenty of offense with 20 goals (he’s in the midst of a career year) and much-needed leadership as an assistant captain.

The 33-year-old doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down, and since he’s under contract for three more seasons, his experience as the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner will be helpful as Nashville pushes to become a true Stanley Cup contender over the next few years.

4. If you had to trade any of the goalies, who would it be?

MG: For me, this one is tough. If we’re talking about trading a goalie for this season and this season alone, my answer would be Lankinen. But if we’re talking about a move that has long-term ramifications for the team, then I’d go with Saros.

By Trotz’s own admission, the Predators are likely a few years away from being legit Cup contenders. If that’s the case, then what good does having a Vezina-caliber goalie do him right now? Trading a player like Saros may be the only way (aside from an offer sheet) to land the kind of offensive scorer — like a Mercer or Alex Turcotte — that Trotz desperately wants.

CB: If you’ve heard anything I’ve said or read anything I’ve written, you’re well aware of my position here. The answer is Kevin Lankinen. I’m going to avoid rehashing it all again, but you can go read my detailed analysis of this situation here and here.

RV: Kevin Lankinen. There’s no need to rush into a decision on the future of the goaltending position right now, especially if Barry Trotz doesn’t get an otherworldly trade offer for Juuse Saros.

Lankinen’s a capable backup who could help a goalie-needy Eastern Conference team like Carolina, New Jersey or Philadelphia. Moving him would give Nashville an extended look at top prospect Yaroslav Askarov, who’s played just three NHL games.

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