The Nashville Predators are on that razor’s edge of decision making that usually hits bubble teams this time of year. Do you consider yourself a playoff contender and go out to get a missing piece at the trade deadline? Or do you sell off expiring contracts in hopes to build momentum for next year?

Considering the Predators’ current playoff odds, I think the latter is more likely.

If the Preds are sellers this year, here are two players who will most likely find themselves on the way out.

Mikael Granlund

For some strange reason, the Mikael Granlund experiment just hasn’t worked out. After sending Kevin Fiala to Minnesota in exchange for Granlund last year, the Preds assumed he was a significant upgrade. With multiple 60-point seasons under his belt, Granlund was a “fast-tracked” version of Fiala that the Preds could plug into their top six and get instant production, eschewing the inconsistent Fiala and finally rounding out their offense.

Wrong.

Granlund’s production has taken a nose dive, collecting only 21 points in 57 games with Nashville. His .39 points per game is the lowest in his career since his rookie season in 2012-13. And for a guy who is supposedly a playmaker, he only has 12 assists with the Preds.

As of now, there is no reason for the Nashville Predators to bring Mikael Granlund back as a pending UFA. Unless John Hynes can quickly rewire Granlund’s skill set into something that works down the stretch, I think Granlund is on his way out. David Poile might as well get something in return for him.

Craig Smith

Could the longest tenured Nashville Predators skater really be on his way out?

Similar to Granlund, Smith is a pending UFA and could very well test the market. Unlike Granlund, Smith has been producing lately, scoring nine goals in his last 15 games.

The thing with Craig Smith is that he might be the Preds’ most tradeable asset right now. His cap hit is very manageable, especially as a rental, and his skill set is something that any playoff contending team would desire: speed, scoring ability, work ethic in the offensive end, and plenty of playoff experience.

Another thing to consider is that the Preds could trade Craig Smith and still fight for a playoff push. When Colton Sissons comes back from injury (which could be soon), there will be an odd man out of the lineup. If the Preds trade Smith, they lose a consistent scorer, but they could just as easily plug in someone like Yakov Trenin or Colin Blackwell in that spot to take his place.

Earlier in the season, we were talking about David Poile’s upcoming decision between these two pending UFAs. The way things are going now, the Nashville Predators might end up traded one or both away this season, so the point will be moot.

Preds Quote of the Week

“We need to make a push [for the playoffs] here. We should come back really motivated, and I’m really excited. We have one day of practice, and then we get right back at it. I’m excited, and I have a lot of confidence in our group that we’re going to make a push.”

-Preds All-Star Roman Josi on returning home after the break and the mindset of the team.

GIF Me That Good Stuff

Roman Josi was the lone Preds representative at the All-Star game. Here he is showcasing his skills at the Skills Competition.

Get Them Digits

  • 26 — the number of All-Star appearances by Predators players in franchise history
  • 13 — the number of different Predators players that have played in the All-Star Game
  • 5 — the most number of All-Star appearances by an individual Preds player so far, held by both Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne.
  • 6 — the number of Preds away games in their next 8 contests
  • 7 — the number of “back to backs” for the Preds the rest of the season. They had only 4 in the first half of the season.

Let’s Do That Hockey

  • Monday, January 27th vs Toronto Maple Leafs (7:00 PM; FS-TN)
  • Wednesday, January 29th @ Washington Capitals (6:30 PM; NBCSN)
  • Thursday, January 30th @ New Jersey Devils (6:30 PM; NBCSN)
  • Saturday, February 1st vs Vegas Golden Knights (7:00 PM; FS-TN)

Final Thought

There’s plenty more discussion on the Preds’ upcoming decision to be buyers or sellers in the latest episode of the Preds NashCast.

Link and I discuss the merits of both options, plus:

  • How difficult a climb the Preds have to push for the playoffs
  • Which hockey players do we hate the most?
  • Puck/player tracking in the NHL
  • That Gritty lawsuit

As always, you can listen on Soundcloud (linked above), iTunes (link), and Spotify (link). We record every two weeks, with more frequent episodes to come as the Nashville Predators make their playoff push (maybe).

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —

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