With the year that the Nashville Predators are having, you would think that the would-be buyers at the upcoming trade deadline. And they very well might be, as they are well under the cap, and David Poile might see this roster as a contender if they were to get one more big-name forward.
But buying at the deadline is not the right move for an organization that sold off many key assets in an attempt to build for the future. If anything, they should be sellers, and there are four players on the Predators who are clearly not a part of their future plans. They are Nick Cousins, Rocco Grimaldi, Mark Borowiecki, and Matt Benning.
Will their losses make the Predators a little worse off in the short term? Potentially. But that should not be enough to prevent them from parting ways with these players.
Number one, there is no guarantee that the Predators’ success so far this year is sustainable. Much of their production in the top six is dependent on some young and inexperienced players, and as good as Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, and Matt Duchene have been as the top line, they are not good enough to get it done without another potent line to help them out.
Secondly, the Predators honestly might not feel the losses of these depth players as much as it might appear. Yes, the gritty and effective fourth-liner in Cousins is nice to have, yes Borowiecki and Benning have done enough to earn the third pairing on defense but look at the players they could be replaced by.
Mathieu Olivier would likely fill in for Cousins, which would mean John Hynes could reunite the original herd line of him, Colton Sissons, and Yakov Trenin. Tanner Jeannot could be sent to a higher line, where he has proven to be effective.
On defense, Borowiecki and Benning would likely, or at least should, be replaced by Phil Myers and David Farrance. Farrance is arguably the best remaining prospect on the Predators and if he is not ready to get some NHL action, it has to be extremely soon.
He looked good in the last game of the 2020-2021 regular season and had a phenomenal performance in the offseason scrimmage in August. Even if he makes some rookie mistakes, he is several times more skilled than either Borowiecki and or Benning, and deserves playing time sooner rather than later.
Why Myers is not playing much at all is one of the biggest mysteries of the season so far. If he could at least be getting playing time in Milwaukee, it would be more understandable, but that is not possible with his contract. It does him no good to be sitting and watching night in and night out, so he might as well just be playing for the Predators instead.
As for Grimaldi, he has fallen more and more out of fit with this team and has gotten to the point where he is not even on the taxi squad. He clearly is a nice depth piece though, and even if it is for a seventh-round pick, it would make sense to just trade him and get something in return.
Ben Harpur is also an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason, but there is no reason to try and get much value for him because few if any teams are likely to have an interest. And the Predators should not shop David Rittich, they could live with losing him much easier than they could live with not having a viable backup goaltender.
Will the Predators get much more than a mid-round pick for any of these players? Probably not, but at least they can get some assets instead of losing them for nothing. They are not coming back next year, and a deep Stanley Cup run is extremely unlikely, so there is no reason to keep them around any longer than they have to be.
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