Despite their 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the reality for the Nashville Predators is the playoffs are more than likely not in the cards this season.
With a 7-10-0 record and seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Central Division, the Predators are facing some tough decisions in the coming months. And that could include a potential franchise reset.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman, every player on the Nashville roster could be available for the right price, including perhaps the team’s biggest star, Filip Forsberg.
“Word is maybe only three untouchables — Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne, who’s toward the end of his career,” Friedman said. “I think other than that, the Predators are willing to listen on just about anybody. That includes Filip Forsberg. That also includes, I found really interesting, Dante Fabbro.”
While players such as Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Brad Richardson are more likely to be traded due to their expiring contracts, a Predators’ fire sale doesn’t seem completely out of the question.
But would General Manager David Poile actually pull the trigger on jettisoning some of the team’s top players?
It’s hard to envision the Nashville Predators without Filip Forsberg. If not for Josi, the 26-year-old Swede would be the face of the franchise. He’s a two-time 30-goal scorer, has scored more than 60 points in a season three times, and at times is downright impossible to stop.
However, he is signed for $6 million per season through 2022 and would likely fetch the largest return in a trade. A package including a first-round pick plus multiple prospects would be a likely starting point for the Preds to consider moving him.
It’s also difficult to picture Nashville moving on so prematurely from Fabbro, a 22-year-old defenseman and the team’s first-round pick in 2016. He’s in his second full season and currently has the fourth-most points on the team.
Poile has been snake-bitten in the past when trading young, stud defensemen (e.g., Seth Jones, Sam Girard), and you’d think Fabbro is young enough to be considered part of the team’s future.
Mattias Ekholm, on the other hand, is 30 and under team control for two more seasons at $3.75 million per. His surprisingly affordable salary plus the length of his contract makes him a desirable trade target for teams thin on blueline depth, including the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. He would likely bring back at least a first-round pick plus a prospect or two.
Others including Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok could also be intriguing options for buyers at or before the trade deadline.
While all of these trade scenarios are hypothetical, they are also all possible. The Predators need to find more playing time in a top-six role for Eeli Tolvanen. They need to find roster spots for Philip Tomasino, who has three goals and six points in six games with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL, and Rem Pitlick, who has six goals and seven points in six AHL games.
Defensemen like Alex Carrier, who had an assist and plus-3 rating in three games with Chicago, and Jeremy Davies, whose seven points is tied for the third-most on the Wolves, are chomping at the bit to earn a call up.
Poile earned a reputation as a bit of a mad scientist for pulling off several large-scale deals, including those involving P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, Jones for Ryan Johansen and Girard, Vladislav Kamenev and a second-round pick for Kyle Turris.
There's no guarantee that the team trades anyone. But it is clear, the roster as currently constructed is simply not good enough.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_