Friday Face-Offs, 2/4/2011

February is here, and I start the month by looking at Nashville’s needs as the season heads toward the trade deadline.

The Nashville Predators and the 2011 Trade Deadline

Potential Needs

Nashville’s needs revolve greatly around the potential return dates for Francis Bouillon, Cal O’Reilly and perhaps Steve Sullivan.  At this point, my assumption is that Matthew Lombardi will not return for this season.

The easiest discussion regards the defensemen.  If Bouillon does not return, Nashville’s desire to acquire another defenseman depends entirely upon David Poile and Barry Trotz’s comfort level with Alexander Sulzer playing regular minutes in the playoffs as well as the increased role that Shane O’Brien is forced to play.  If that comfort level isn’t there, Poile may go shopping for a veteran defenseman similar to Bouillon.

Nashville’s most critical need is likely down the middle.  With O’Reilly and Lombardi’s injuries, Nashville is forced to ice young Chris Meuller as the center of the fourth line.  Meuller has really played a very solid game and has done nothing but acquit himself well.  It’s likely that Poile would like to increase the offensive output and experience of that line however as the team heads down the stretch run.  The return of Steve Sullivan would likely see him replace Matt Halischuk on the fourth line and could certainly boost the offensive output, but still leaves the inexperienced Meuller at center and practically no depth if another center went down.

Finally, given the relatively weak power play efforts by Nashville and the fact that Nashville is 25th in the league in scoring only 2.55 goals per game (as opposed to 18th last season with 2.65 goals per game) there’s certainly a need for a proven scorer.

Any Money Available?

Yes.  If I did my calculations correctly (with the assistance of CapGeek), and excluding any bonuses, Nashville’s spending projects to $50,085,040- using the current roster including all injured players except for Meuller and Halischuk (demoted on the trade deadline).  That leaves $1,560,181 left before you reach the cap midpoint- the likely cap to Nashville’s budget.

If you assume no trades prior to deadline day (if Poile can wait that long with the recent results), there would be 41 days remaining in the regular season.  Also remember that, beginning from the day of the trade deadline, there are no upper limits to roster size.

All that make sense?  If you were to assume that Meuller and Halischuk are sent down on the trade deadline, Nashville can afford any combination of players whose daily cap hit does not exceed $38,053- without losing any other players.  Those numbers can be obtained from CapGeek’s Daily Tracker feature.  That translates to contracts that total to an annual cap hit of $7,077,858.

If Nashville sends roster players the other way, then they can absorb more.  There should not be any doubt that Nashville could bring in just about any pending UFA they would want without exceeding the midpoint of the cap.

The Week That Was

Ouch.  Nashville came stumbling out of the All-Star break by dropping a pair of 3-2 decisions.

It’s getting painfully obvious that Nashville has no room for error due to the inability to score, in practically any situation.

After a crushing series loss to Chicago last season, primarily due to a power play that was as bad as it can get, Nashville was coming into this season on a mission to improve the power play and break through that first round.

Now, they’re in danger of going into the post season in worse shape than last season.

Facing Off

Not much for me to argue with over the All-Star break.  I thought I’d take a week off the head shot discussion.

The Week Ahead for Nashville

Nashville has somehow retained the 4th seed in the Western Conference despite dropping their fourth in a row with their loss to Philadelphia.  They are only 4 points ahead of 11th seed, however.

If they expect to stay in the top eight, they really need to take three of the next four games.

  • Saturday, 2/5 – vs. Detroit @ 7pm CST (FSN)
  • Monday, 2/7 – vs. Edmonton @ 7pm CST (no TV)
  • Wednesday, 2/9 – at Detroit @ 6:30pm CST (FSN)
  • Saturday, 2/12 – vs. Colorado @ 7pm CST (no TV)

You are invited to follow me on Twitter (@SingletonPreds).  For game recaps of all Predators games, check out my HockeyIndependent colleague, Mark Willoughby (@TheViewFrom111).

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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.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by rubenjongstra, David Singleton. David Singleton said: Friday Face-Offs, 2/4 Edition: Nashville @ the Trade Deadline http://j.mp/dV65MW [...]

  2. [...] Friday Face-Offs, 2/4/2011 | Hockey IndependentDavid proposes that when it comes to rental players (those on expiring contracts), money shouldn’t be an issue at trade deadline time. [...]