The Nashville Predators are on the verge of both buying and selling at the trade deadline. While everyone has thoughts on which direction they should head, it’s tough to say exactly what David Poile will do when the deadline hits on Monday, February 24th.

With that in mind, here’s a primer on where the Preds stand and what they are likely to do between now and trade deadline day.

Preds Goaltenders

Who is staying? Who is going?

Pekka Rinne has a no-trade clause in his contract and Juuse Saros has been playing very well over the last couple of weeks. Since both contracts are easily manageable, both in value and in term, a change in the Nashville Predators’ goaltending tandem does not seem very likely right now.

Any new faces?

While there’s always a chance we could see a third goaltender appear in the rotation (Connor Ingram has been playing very well for Milwaukee), I just don’t see the Preds trading for a goaltender. This position seems set for the rest of the season.

Preds Defense

Who is staying? Who is going?

The only thing I know for sure is that Roman Josi isn’t going anywhere. Not only is he untouchable in terms of his play on the ice and value to the team, he has a no move clause in his new contract which kicks in the 2020-21 season. If David Poile were to try and trade Roman Josi right now, he’d need to leave Bridgestone Arena every night while wearing a disguise.

Perhaps not so certain, but still very certain, is that Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm will stay. Before the injury at the Winter Classic, Ellis was putting together an excellent bounce back season. Ekholm has also quietly been very consistent amid the blueline changes, plus he is on a very team friendly contract through 2022.

Dante Fabbro has gone through some growing pains, but he still seems like a safe bet to stay. He’s also still on his entry level contract, giving the Nashville Predators plenty of leverage with him moving forward.

Dan Hamhuis, Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin, and Jarred Tinordi fall in the “I’m not sure anyone wants these guys” category. If any of these guys are traded, it’s because the bottom fell out of the NHL trade market for defenseman and teams are desperate. Calling any of these guys a “rental” is being generous and they don’t have cap hits high enough to warrant a salary dump.

For now, it looks like all the current pieces are here to stay.

Any new faces?

On that note, there could be a market for an extra top four defenseman if Poile finds the right deal. There are rumors that the Kings could be shopping Alec Martinez. If Poile sees himself as a buyer, Martinez would be an excellent find. He’s a bona fide top four blueliner with Stanley Cup winning experience (he scored the Cup-winning goal in 2014 for the Kings) and he’s a reasonable $4 million cap hit signed through 2021.

Another option would be Brandon Montour with the Buffalo Sabres. Montour would be a backdoor buy for the Preds as a pending restricted free agent. He’s a young, puck-moving defenseman with a ton of promise, though he’s taken a few steps back since going from Anaheim to Buffalo in January 2019.

Preds Forwards

Who is staying? Who is going?

I’ll go ahead and make this prediction: regardless of whether the Nashville Predators are buyers or sellers, at least one of the following three players will be traded away at the deadline: Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, or Nick Bonino.

Smith and Granlund are pending free agents and it looks unlikely that the Preds will be able to sign both of them. Each one will be due a pay raise in 2020 and Poile might have to make that decision in the next few days.

If I had to guess right now, I’d say Poile keeps Granlund and trades Smith. This is based on how much Granlund is being relied upon for offense right now and how much his usage has changed since the arrival of John Hynes.

Nick Bonino would be an example of “selling high” for the Preds, as he’s been one of the team’s best forwards at both ends this year. His cap hit is reasonable, he has Stanley Cup winning experience, and he’s an extremely useful defensive player in the playoffs.

As for the rest of the forwards, there’s no one that stands out as particularly trade worthy right now. Poile isn’t likely to part with guys he just signed to long contracts like Matt Duchene, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen, and Colton Sissons. And he isn’t likely to get any takers (at least at the deadline) on pseudo salary cap dumps like Kyle Turris.

I could see him taking offers on someone like Rocco Grimaldi, who has been a lightning bug for the Preds since coming on the scene in 2019. He’s cheap, he’s fast, and he’s willing to do what it takes to create offense.

Everyone else on the roster probably sticks around.

Any new faces?

This is the million dollar question. Will David Poile go out and acquire a new forward, something he always tries to do, yet somehow it almost never works out?

Recent failures include Ryan Hartman, Wayne Simmonds, Cody McLeod (twice), and Vernon Fiddler. Brian Boyle wasn’t a failure, but he didn’t help win the ultimate prize either.

When the Preds buy forwards at the deadline, it rarely works out. Mike Fisher is the exception, not the rule.

But I don’t doubt David Poile will do some searching, particularly for young forwards who are looking for new homes, either because they are caught in a log jam or because they are unhappy with their current situation.

One perfect example would be Jesse Puljujarvi in Edmonton. Though he left for Finland this past year to get more playing time, the Oilers still hold his rights and he reportedly still wants to play in the NHL. He’s a point per game player for Karpat and has one thing that the Preds desperately lack: size.

Could we see a package where the Preds send Craig Smith to the Oilers for Puljujarvi and a draft pick? It’s not outside of the realm of possibility, considering that Jason Zucker went for a player, a prospect, and a pick in his sale to Pittsburgh.

Other options that David Poile could look at: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who is putting up good numbers on a bad Ottawa team; Josh Anderson with the Blue Jackets, who brings size and some scoring touch; Tyler Toffoli with the Kings, who would be a cheaper option if Poile gets desperate.

And finally there’s Jimmy Vesey, who could also be available for the Nashville Predators.

(Just kidding.)

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —

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