Folks, with the coronavirus shutdown looming very large (and not going away any time soon), I thought it might be worthwhile to look back at some of David Poile’s trades with the Nashville Predators.

We’ve got plenty of time to reflect these days, don’t we?

Funny story, I actually started writing this piece sometime earlier this season, but wasn’t sure how I would use it. It’s tough to find room to fit something like this into a busy NHL schedule, especially when covering a team like the Nashville Predators and all they’ve been through this season.

But then the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and suddenly things are not so busy anymore. Every major sporting event is cancelled for the foreseeable future and we’ve got plenty of time to reflect, review the Preds, and much more.

Since things are at a stand still, and since David Poile is one of the most trade-happy general managers in the league, we’ve got room to focus on David Poile’s most recent trades with the Preds.

On a programming note, this will be a multi-part series, but focusing on trades only. How many parts will be in this series? Who knows! Probably a dozen or so at the rate things are going. Thankfully, David Poile has made a ton of trades in Predators history. Maybe we will even go back and rate his very first trades with the Preds back in 1998.

A few things to consider here:

  • I only looked at trades involving at least one named player. I skipped over “pick for pick” trades just for clarity’s sake. In some cases, those picks haven’t even been made yet. In other cases, these were just draft day moves, with GMs jockeying back and forth for position. Hardly worth much time.
  • Context is important here. Time, money, organizational support, and performance on the ice all make a difference in some of these trades. For example, draft and trade deadline day trades are under significantly different time constraints than trades made over the summer.

In light of this, I decided to grade each trade on both the short term and long term. This should help solve the contextual problem with analyzing trades.

Also, I used Smiling David Poiles as my grading scale. The more smiles, the better for the Preds. Maximum five smiles per grade (we can’t get too happy around here these days).

1. February 24th, 2020

Nashville receives: Korbinian Holzer (D)

Anaheim receives: Matt Irwin (D), 2022 6th round pick

The Nashville Predators were not active participants at the 2020 trade deadline in February. Most reports indicate that Poile did very little to shop his pending free agents and even less to look for additional roster depth. The one move he made involved sending Matt Irwin to the Ducks for Korbinian Holzer.

Irwin had been struggling as a defenseman since his first season with the Preds, where he was serviceable in a limited role. His utility was not readily apparent in any facet of Peter Laviolette’s Preds and not much changed when John Hynes took over. A healthy scratch more often than not in the last year or so, it seemed clear Irwin wasn’t going to be around much longer.

Korbinian Holzer Nashville Predators
Holzer has 4 shots and 2 PIMs in 3 games for the Preds so far. (Image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

Holzer is a much larger and physical defenseman than Irwin, though he’s not necessarily any better with the puck. Still, in his first three games in Nashville, he seems like an upgrade. He seems more likely to knock opposing forwards off the puck and a bit more attuned to Hynes’ defensive zone scheme than Irwin, who often tried to do too much with the puck when he got it.

The only problem with this trade is that for some reason David Poile threw a 6th round pick to the Ducks in what probably should have been a player for player trade. The Ducks had leverage here because Poile didn’t want to hold a press conference where he did absolutely nothing at the deadline. He had to make a move, so he was forced to sweeten the deal at the last minute.

Most 6th round picks don’t make the league, but it’s still a measurable sacrifice for what is ultimately a very low impact deal on the future of the franchise.

Short term grade:

Long term grade:

2. February 22nd, 2020

Nashville receives: Ben Harpur (D)

Toronto receives: Miikka Salomaki (F)

At long last, David Poile parted ways with Miikka Salomaki. The former 2nd-round pick played 167 games in Nashville after being drafted in 2011. You’d be hard pressed to remember anything about his time here other than the time he did this to Corey Perry:

Salomaki finished with the 7th lowest points per game in Preds history among players with at least 150 games played. His “physical presence” on the ice was fun to watch, but ultimately the game is about putting the puck in the net and about preventing scoring at the other end. Salomaki could do neither.

Ben Harpur is a defenseman who will probably never play for the Preds. He is likely the 6th or 7th best blueliner for Milwaukee right now. He’s a pending restricted free agent and won’t likely return to Milwaukee or Nashville.

This was a low impact, low expectation trade for Poile and that’s reflected in my grades here.

Short term grade:

Long term grade:

3. January 7th, 2020

Nashville receives: Michael McCarron (F)

Montreal receives: Laurent Dauphin (F)

Speaking of low impact, low expectation! You probably don’t remember this trade, and you may not even have known the Preds had Laurent Dauphin in their system (stay tuned to this series for more on him!).

Michael McCarron is a depth forward for Milwaukee, but he was formerly a 1st round pick for the Montreal Canadiens. He played in 69 games for the Habs, collecting two goals and six points. He’s certainly not a playmaker or a goal scorer, but he is massive at 6’6″ and 230 pounds.

This move was about David Poile acquiring some size and strength for Milwuakee, and it only cost him Laurent Dauphin, a rather forgettable asset.

Short term grade:

Long term grade:

4. June 22, 2019

Nashville receives: Future considerations

New Jersey receives: Adam Helewka (F)

I won’t spend much time on this one. Adam Helewka was a 4th round pick by the Sharks in 2015 who has yet to make his NHL debut. He’s been passed around various minor league teams and the Preds dealt him to the Devils a day after the massive P.K. Subban trade (more on that below). Helewka is currently playing in the Swedish Hockey League.

This trade was a contract dump for Nashville. At the time they had 41 of the maximum 50 contracts signed and still had free agency looming. This trade meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

Short term impact

Long term impact

5. June 22, 2019

Nashville receives: Steven Santini (D), Jeremy Davies (D), 2019 2nd round pick, 2020 2nd round pick

New Jersey receives: P.K. Subban (D)

One of the biggest decisions David Poile had to make in recent memory was how would he pay for Matt Duchene, a player he’d been wanting in Nashville for a long time.

The answer came last June, when Poile sent P.K. Subban and his massive $9 million salary cap hit to New Jersey in exchange for a throwaway defenseman, a nice prospect, and two 2nd round picks.

This move stunned many people in Nashville. The impact P.K. Subban had on the city made folks instantly reminiscent. Though he was only in Nashville for three seasons, he made a lasting impression and he will be fondly remembered by many. Also, most people were miffed at the return being what it was. Surely a former Norris Trophy winner would get more than that?

But I stand by what I wrote in response to the trade: this move made perfect sense for Poile, and not just because he was able to sign Matt Duchene to a seven-year, $56 contract nine days later.

P.K. Subban is a shell of his former self, currently sitting at only 18 points in 68 games with the Devils. He’s always been an offensive-minded defenseman and right now his offense is nowhere to be found.

It’s fair to think that maybe Subban is struggling because of his current situation. Oftentimes, as the team goes, so goes the player. To that end, it’s also fair to assume that the Preds’ defense in 2019-20, which has struggled, would be improved with a guy like Subban on the roster.

But the way things are trending, David Poile was able to shed one of the worst contracts in the league and found a way to spend that income on something a bit more valuable. We don’t know what Matt Duchene will look like in 2-3 years, and his start in Nashville is a bit disappointing, but he’s certainly looking better than P.K. Subban right now.

Also, the often ignored prospect in the trade, Jeremy Davies, is playing very well in Milwaukee. He currently has 28 points in 68 games and is a big part of the Admirals’ top four. I strongly suggest you check out this breakdown of Davies’ game by Eric Dunay of On The Forecheck. The Preds got a good one.

Finally, the Preds also got two 2nd round picks in the trade. Most 2nd rounders have a decent chance to make the NHL, so that’s not nothing (please ignore the Miikka Salomaki bashing from earlier in this piece, please).

Given all of this, I think you have to like the trade impact, both in the short term and the long term, for the Nashville Predators.

Short term impact

Long term impact

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —
Facebook Comments