It is no secret that the Nashville Predators are in on a top six winger. The Predators are set to make the playoffs again after loosing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup final. The organization feels that they should acquire another top six winger to help strengthen their offensive depth and help ensure a strong playoff run. Luckily for the Predators, the trade deadline is approaching meaning there are plenty of top six wingers on the market for the team to try and acquire.
One winger whom the Predators have reportedly been very interested in as of late and are also reported to be going all in for would be Rick Nash. Nash is on the last year of his $7,800,000 contract and is set to become a UFA at the end of the season. The former first overall pick has had a decline in production over the past few seasons. This season, the 33-year-old has only managed to record 27 points in 57 games which is indicating that he is probably on the decline. Although Nash is declining, he still holds a lot of value and will command a high asking price come the trade deadline.
The Nashville Predators already have a strong reliable team and trading for a top six winger would be very beneficial for the team but also very costly. If the Predators were to trade for Nash, they would have to give up a lot of key assets for their future in exchange for the 33-year-old, and by giving up these assets, they would be stunting their future growth which is common come trade deadline time, but Nashville does not need to do this.
The Predators are second in the league in terms of lowest goals against at 85, which is only 5 less then the league-leading Boston Bruins. In terms of goals for, however, the Predators rank 18th with 104. Based on this stat, it shows that their defence does not need to be altered but they could use some additional depth in their scoring and adding a top six winger would surely do that.
Instead of trading away your top assets that could help you continue to make the playoffs for years to come, it would be smarter for the Predators to build from within. The price for Nash or any other top six winger would almost certainly require Nashville to give up a first round pick.
Although some may argue that a team like Nashville, who is expected to make a deep playoff run will not have a good pick so it would be beneficial to trade it in order to help win the cup, this may not be the best idea. A top six winger will command more then just a first round pick and even if the Predators get a low first round draft pick it could still hold tremendous value and turn out to be a good NHL player/prospect.
In last year’s NHL draft, some of the best talent from the draft came later in the first round. The St. Louis Blues traded up to draft 20th overall which they used to draft the center prospect Robert Thomas who is currently a top NHL prospect. The Blues also drafted 31st overall to draft Klim Kostin who is another top prospect in the Blues organization.
The Philadelphia Flyers also got a skilled young prospect in the late picks of the first round. They drafted Morgan Frost 27th overall and he is currently one of the OHL’s highest scorers with 88 points in 53 games. The steal of the first round may have perhaps came when Nashville drafted 30th overall. The Predators drafted Eeli Tolvanen who is currently playing in the KHL as an 18-year-old.
The KHL is a mens league and is considered by many to be the hardest league to play in besides the NHL. Not only is Tolvanen playing in the KHL as an 18-year-old, but he currently has 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points in 47 games. Further more, for a rookie playing in one of the hardest leagues in the world as only an 18-year-old, this is a impressive feat.
The fact is that lower first round picks can still bring tremendous value to a team and that the Nashville Predators already have a top skilled winger prospect playing overseas, the right move for the team could be to bring Tolvanen to the NHL instead of trading top assets for a rental player that is expensive and already on the decline.
Tolvanen could slot into the top six role and should be able to get accustomed to it quickly, especially given the success he had of getting accustomed to the KHL as an 18-year-old and the previous success of other top KHL players adjusting to the NHL so fast. Players like Yevgeni Dadonov, Artemi Panarin, Nikita Zaitsev and Alexander Radulov are all examples of how skilled KHL players can adjust to the NHL quickly, and the fact that Tolvanen is only 18 and has adjusted to the KHL so quickly makes it reasonable to assume that he could adjust to the NHL rather quickly.
Tolvanen might need some time to adjust to the NHL before being slotted into the playoff roster so the sooner they bring him to the NHL the better so that when the playoffs come, he will know what he has to do to help win games and contribute offensively.
The Predators already do not have the best prospect pool in the league and it does need work in majority of the areas and trading away top prospects for a top six winger would deplete an already shaky prospect pool. It would be better for them to use their top prospect in Eeeli Tolvanen then to trade away top assets for the future ahead.