Last June, despite having the best defense in the NHL, and the best goaltender, the Nashville Predators lost the Stanley Cup. Subban, Josi, and Ellis and Ekholm lost the Stanley Cup to a group of defensemen that would not crack the top four on any of the top six or seven defenses in the NHL.
Mostly, it wasn’t their fault. They lacked the forwards to win. They also lacked the experience to win. With one trade, they can fix the first, and use what the learned last year to make up for the latter.
Early in the summer they signed Nick Bonino. He’s a perfect third center. In Ryan Johansen they have their number one center. As currently constituted they do not have the right number two. They do have the pieces to get him.
Right now, the Predators have all their picks in the first two rounds for each of the next three years. They also have solid, NHL worthy prospects who won’t make the roster in the next two years. If they put together a package with two or even three of Dante Fabbro, Vladislav Kamenev, Tyler Moy, Frederic Allard, and Pontus Aberg and some picks, they can land the center they need.
The Matt Duchene drama is in desperate need of an ending. The Predator’s may not be the ideal trade partner, but the Avalanche have spent over a year rejecting good and fair trades from all over the NHL. This is lending speed to the sinking of Joe Sakic’s creditability as an NHL general manager.
If they line up Johansen, Duchene, and Bonino as their top three centers they become the best team at center in the west. With the addition of Duchene’s speed and passing ability, they are quite likely to cover all of the loss of James Neal’s offense. Maybe, just maybe a little more.
If Alexei Emelin can stop their third pairing from being a sieve, and they add Matt Duchene, they Nashville Predators become not just deeper, better, more balanced team from first line to third. They become the best team in the National Hockey League, and he has this and another season under contract.
Check out this week’s Two Man ForeCheck.