One wouldn't exactly say "the party never stops" when it comes to the NHL Trade Deadline, especially since that deadline is indeed next Tuesday, but you could just about say "the party never starts" instead. Despite incessant rumor-mongering and speculation, we've had nothing but scraps come in lately in terms of NHL trades, with the lone exception of last week's Carolina/Ottawa four-player swap. But just in case GM David Poile gets the urge to start shopping for his Nashville Predators this weekend while I'm not close to the keyboard, I thought I'd leave some thoughts on the matter:
What the Preds need: A serviceable Top Six forward, especially if Martin Gelinas' knee injury turns out to be a season-ender. Rich Peverley has done fine work in a short stint, and yes, Kevin Klein has been attending Winger School in Milwaukee, but this team needs an offensive threat to help spark David Legwand and Martin Erat, who have been slumping of late. I've been jumping up and down for weeks regarding Vaclav Prospal being my first choice on this front (based on ability, affordability, and upcoming free agency), but I wouldn't rule out a good centerman, either, if one were obtainable (cough, cough, Sergei Fedorov).
What the Preds can give up: The obvious trading asset is the depth on the blue line, with eight able bodies on the active roster. Ryan Suter may be the most tradeable one of the bunch, in that he's a proven performer who's about to get a significant raise in his next contract. Klein and Ville Koistinen could step into the lineup for the next season or two at bargain-basement prices, without too much dropoff in performance, and the money that would have gone to Suter could instead be applied to either the player gained in trade, or another free agent acquisition this summer.
If the deal were a real knockout, Nashville could perhaps deal Dan Ellis, considering the season that Pekka Rinne is having down on the farm in Milwaukee, but that might stretch the goaltending depth too thin for Mr. Poile's liking. There do seem to be a number of cheap goalies available on the free agency market this summer, so this might not be a bad idea, planning for a 2008-9 with Chris Mason & a veteran backup in Nashville, and Rinne continuing to mature in Milwaukee.
Certainly, the Preds shouldn't (and probably won't) trade away the draft picks they've been stocking up, particularly the #1 from Florida in the upcoming draft. Who knows what might happen, there's an outside chance that Nashville could have the top pick overall if things work out right over the next several weeks.
Anyways, Mr. Poile, just review this before working the phones this weekend, in case you can't reach me to personally review a deal before you pull the trigger...