The objective was clear for the Nashville Predators heading into the trade deadline — they were going to need help on their back end. While things were going smoothly on the first two pairings, the third pairing was starting to suffer over the course of the month prior.
Both guys on the third pairing, Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning, are injured, as Borowiecki in particular has really struggled to stay healthy after signing a one-year extension midway through February. Ben Harpur has been dressing for many games despite being a less than playable option, and it is obvious that the team does not have much trust in Jeremy Davies, and cannot rely on Phil Myers to play at this time.
David Poile knew that he had to do something, and he did the Sunday night before the deadline. The only problem was that he might have been thinking a bit desperately when he pulled the trigger that night.
The Predators acquired Jeremy Lauzon from the Seattle Kraken for a second-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Yes, someone who is going to be relied on as mainly a third-pairing defenseman was somehow spent a high draft pick on.
And it is not like Lauzon’s individual performance has come close to warranting that kind of trade return. While he is young and slowly starting to take on more and more responsibility as an NHL player, you do not spend a second-round pick on someone because you think they will pan out, you have to see it for yourself before you part with a valuable asset.
What likely made Poile willing to pay the price he did was that Lauzon fits the identity that the Predators want to play with, as he is a big physical defenseman who frequently hits opposing players. Still, just because someone fits your identity does not mean you should trade important pieces for him.
Besides the trade for Lauzon, the Predators also traded for another depth defenseman in Alex Biega. Thankfully he was only dealt for future considerations because he will barely see the ice if at all for the Predators.
The Lauzon move is the one that showcases the deadline for the Predators, and in fairness, it is not like it sets them back very much. A second-round pick this year is more than unlikely to contribute anytime within the recent future seasons, and not only does the team have an additional third-round pick this year, they also have multiple quality prospects who are waiting for their time in the NHL to come.
But the point still stands — you do not trade second-round draft picks for guys who have not proven themselves yet. It is especially tough to swallow when you consider that Marc-Andre Fleury fetched the exact same return the next day.
Overall, what this feels like is that Poile made a move for the sake of doing so, and that is never a good thing. Yes, the Predators badly needed help on the blue line and especially will need it now with Dante Fabbro being sidelined for the next few weeks.
But making no move is better than making the wrong one, and the Predators would have been better off not making this one in the first place. At the end of the day, a third-pairing defenseman is not what is going to make the difference between this team being a contender or not, and there is no reason to invest the asset they did into making this move.
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