Does there exist an opportunity for Nashville to make a major splash via a trade and should they do it? There may actually exist two such opportunities. One might be Zach Parise in New Jersey, however I don’t believe that truly exists. I really don’t see a scenario where a player of Parise’s age, ability, and expiring contract status (RFA) leaves New Jersey. The best and most likely available opportunity for Nashville, in my opinion, is to make a trade for Jarome Iginla.
How legitimate is that opportunity?
It all begins with Calgary’s motives. From afar, they appear to be almost entirely a team of aging players across the board- two of those being elite-level in Iginla and Kiprusoff. Based upon Hockey’s Future organizational rankings, Calgary’s prospect cupboard appears to be fairly bare (even more so with Brett Sutter’s trade). They also have a payroll near or over the salary cap (with appropriate allowances). The evidence would seem to indicate a need to drop salary, increase the talent-level of their prospects and the desire to add quality draft picks- essentially a rebuild of some degree. That said, it’s been reported that Feaster has no plans to trade Jarome Iginla and that the path of rebuilding through the draft and/or prospects might not be his preferred method.
Would Nashville make a good trade partner?
Well, Nashville certainly has all the cap space in the world to pull it off,. Can they do it and stay within their budget? I think so and will illustrate later. They are ranked as the top organization by Hockey’s Future in terms of prospects, with solid prospects at every position. They have the draft picks, including the New Jersey Devils’ second round pick in the next draft- which should be near the top of the round (acquired in the Jason Arnott trade). They also have the rights to Alexander Radulov to trade in the right situation.
Doesn’t Nashville have an internal budget of roughly the midpoint of the cap?
That has certainly been the case to this point. Until we hear/see any different, it’s definitely unwise to assume otherwise. That said, when I crunch the numbers (courtesy of CapGeek’s wonderful trade machine) I can make it work for this year and the following years.
Does it harm the ability to re-sign Shea Weber?
Nope. Crunching the numbers for next season (again using CapGeek), I was able to bring Shea into the fold provided he had a cap hit in the $5.5 – $6.5 million range. If that’s doable (and it should be provided it’s a long term contract), I would tend to think that signing a player the caliber of Jarome Iginla would encourage Shea to re-up.
What about Ryan Suter?
I was also able to re-sign Ryan Suter to a contract essentially the same as Weber’s new contract while staying under the cap midpoint provided the cap ceiling does not drop.
How in the hell did you do that?
It meant trusting in the educated guess that Calgary needed salary room, draft picks, and prospects first and foremost. Then it meant parting ways with Steve Sullivan, Shane O’Brien, Joel Ward, Jerred Smithson, JP Dumont, and Alexander Sulzer either via the trade, waivers, or when their contracts naturally expired. It also meant parting ways with two top prospects. For those two, I chose Ryan Ellis and Chet Pickard, but it could be others provided they are not from the same position group (forwards, defensemen, goalies). I also parted ways with a couple of solid draft picks, including New Jersey’s 2nd round pick received in the Arnott trade. Finally, if Calgary so desires, they could also have the rights to Alexander Radulov in exchange for slightly lower draft picks.
The trade in detail…
Two Prospects (say Ryan Ellis and Chet Pickard), New Jersey’s 2011 2nd, Nashville’s 2011 3rd, Joel Ward, Jerred Smithson, and rights to Alexander Radulov
Where does that leave Calgary?
It leaves Calgary with a lot more cap room for next season first and foremost. It also gives them two top prospects that may be NHL-ready depending which two they choose (I’d say that Blum, Josi, and Ellis are definitely ready). At the very least, they replace the 2nd and 3rd round draft picks for the upcoming draft that they had traded away. I could see those draft picks sweetened somewhat. They might come out of it with the rights to Alexander Radulov, depending upon the draft picks (dropping Radulov out if Calgary requires a 1st, etc.).
This more or less put’s Calgary in the mode that Nashville has worked in for the past several years- reliance on solid veterans and several younger players while developing additional young players. The difference is that they can execute that philosophy (which has worked very well for Nashville) with a higher budget from the outset.
Where does that leave Nashville ?
Let’s talk next season first and assume that David Poile decides to keep Sergei Kostitsyn, Marek Svatos, Cal O’Reilly, Marcel Goc and Nick Spaling (w/ bumps all around except O’Reilly). They do not bring back (assuming they are not included in the trade) Steve Sullivan, Shane O’Brien, Jerred Smithson and Joel Ward.
Specifically, assuming a cap of roughly $62 million next season, here is where I have Nashville (courtesy of CapGeek’s Cap Calculator):
CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
Sergei Kostitsyn ($1.250m) / David Legwand ($4.500m) / Jarome Iginla ($7.000m)
Martin Erat ($4.500m) / Matthew Lombardi ($3.500m) / Marek Svatos ($0.950m)
Colin Wilson ($1.725m) / Cal O’Reilly ($0.750m) / Patric Hornqvist ($3.083m)
J.P. Dumont ($4.000m) / Marcel Goc ($1.250m) / Jordin Tootoo ($1.250m)
Wade Belak ($0.575m) / Nick Spaling ($0.950m)
Ryan Suter ($3.500m) / Shea Weber ($5.500m)
Kevin Klein ($1.350m) / Jonathon Blum ($0.941m)
Cody Franson ($0.800m) / Francis Bouillon ($1.350m)
Pekka Rinne ($3.400m) /Anders Lindback ($0.875m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $62,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $53,000,000; BONUSES: $1,112,500
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $9,000,000
After next season, JP Dumont comes off the books allowing for the re-signing of Ryan Suter.
Nashville’s prospect pool remains very deep with two of Ellis, Blum and Josi as well as potentially only losing one of Klasen, Beck, Watson or Pickard.
For this year, it brings another shooter to the lineup- one that produces at elite levels regardless of who his center is. It certainly brings additional leadership and playoff experience as well. It would likely see Sulzer waived (assuming he’s not included in the trade) in order to stay under the midpoint this season (same for Ward and Smithson if they are not included in the trade).
While it would see the end of the Spaling-Smithson-Ward line, it would see an extremely dangerous top line of Kostisyn-Legwand-Iglina- one that could play against the opponent’s top line with relatively little defensive concerns. PK duties would fall even further on Legwand and Spaling with help from Goc, Kostitsyn, Erat and Sullivan (when healthy). From the power play perspective, it certainly can’t hurt.
I don’t know Feaster’s or Poile’s appetite for a trade like this, but if there exists an opportunity, I hope it’s explored. If it exists with parameters similar to what I’ve outlined above, I believe one has to pull the trigger on that.
After all the good things that’s happened to this franchise this season (injuries aside), a move like this could really be the catalyst to drive this team deep into the playoffs. The fans deserve it and so do the players and coaches working hard to take that next step.
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.