Nashville Predators GM David Poile finally made the big trade today to clear up a logjam on defense, by trading Marek Zidlicky to the Minnesota Wild for prospect Ryan Jones and a 2nd round pick in 2009. Legions of Preds fans will be cheering this move, as #3 was often derided by some fans for coughing up the puck at inopportune times and not being a physical blueliner like fan-favorite Shea Weber.
I've been a big fan of the other transactions the team has swung over the past few months, and I know I've been as vocal as any calling for Poile to open up opportunities for Kevin Klein and Ville Koistinen to get regular playing time this season, but I have to say that at first blush, I don't like this deal. Zidlicky is a legitimate #1 power play quarterback, a valuable asset in today's NHL, and I'm betting that after Brian Campbell gets his ridiculous free agent contract, the teams that miss out would be eager to trade for a player of roughly similar ability with a mere $3.5 million/year salary.
In return, the Preds are getting a 2nd-round pick next year (OK, but not a huge asset) and a mid-range prospect coming off a 4-year NCAA run with Miami University. While he did garner more than a point per game this season and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, he doesn't appear to rank highly among Minnesota's up-and-comers, tagged as their 8th-best forward prospect at Hockey's Future just a few weeks ago. Basically, it looks like Mr. Poile garnered some fodder that might hopefully allow him to trade up in the 2009 draft, but he certainly didn't acquire any immediate help for a group of forwards that need a Top Six forward and a competitive third line.
Over at the Tennessean, John Glennon approves of the move, citing in particular Zidlicky's declining goal-scoring totals. My response there is that goal-scoring is way down there on the list of priorities for defensemen, and to expect a defenseman to maintain a 10% shooting percentage like he had in his first two NHL seasons is unrealistic. Zidlicky's offensive skills were unparalleled among Nashville defenders, and an already woeful power play will have a rough time making headway in 2008-9. I would have hoped that if Zidlicky were indeed the one to go, David Poile could have gotten more in return.