The Nashville Predators are just a few days away from entering into the Free Agency market for this offseason. They also have some trade options on the table as well. Today let’s look at their options in both the UFA market and on the trade front.
Partick Marleau – Now 37 years of age, you would think that he would be slowing down. However, his last two seasons would tell a different story. Marleau has scored 25 and 27 goals in those 2 years. He is listed as a center, but plays more on the wing.
Analysis – Marleau could be a good veteran add for a season or two at the right price. He would slot into the Preds top 6 right away.
Joe Thornton – About to turn 38, Jumbo Joe is still getting the job done. Another player you would think is slowing down, doesn’t appear to be. He had 43 assists last season and that was his lowest total in the last 12 seasons, not counting the lockout year where he still posted 33. Even in his latter years he is still one of the league’s best set up men.
Analysis – If you could sign Thornton for a season or two at a fair price, this is a guy that could really benefit players like Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala and Pontus Aberg. I think he would be a great add.
Nick Bonino – At 29 years of age he is coming off of his 2nd straight Stanley Cup with the Pittsburg Penguins. He is never going to lead your team in points, but he is a do it all kind of center. He reminds me of a younger Mike Fisher with less scoring touch. Very good defensive forward.
Analysis – I know we have Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons to fill this role, but adding a player of Bonino’s ability can only make you deeper. As long as you don’t break the bank on getting him, he could be a very good player to have.
Nail Yakupov – Nail is still only 23 even though he seems like he has been around forever now. He is a lightning rod for criticism and probably deserves a good bit of it. His rookie season he finished 5th in the Calder race, but that was also the lockout year. There is a lot said negatively about his drive to learn and his want to play defense. However, this is a supremely talented forward. With the right coach he could be a huge offensive threat.
Analysis – This all comes down to cost. If you can get him on a cheap bridge type of deal, I say why not. Hopefully being let go from his second team in his short 5 year career will serve as a wakeup call to the young forward.
Matt Duchene – We all hear you Joe Sakic, you may not trade him now. However, none of us believe you. Duchene is the player everyone covets right now. The dynamic center is coming off of a bad year with a bad team. He is a 20 goal scorer in 5 of 8 seasons in the league. Right now he has 2 years left on his current contract at 6mil per.
Analysis – This is the kind of 2nd line center the Predators really want. However, if Sakic’s asking price is one of Nashville’s top 4 defensemen, I would be shocked if that happened. However, a deal that involved a future top 4 defensemen like a Dante Fabbro, a 1st round pick and maybe a roster player like Colton Sissons would be a starting point I think the Preds could go with.
Paul Byron – About to be 29, Byron appears to be a bit of a late bloomer, coming off of a career year. He posted career highs in goals (22), assists (21), points (43) and +/- (+21). Byron can play center or either wing. Only making 1.66 per year for the next two years, Byron is a very intriguing option.
Analysis – Because of his big year last season, it is probably going to take a really good prospect and a pick to get him. The question would be, was this a fluke season for him, or is this what he is now. With the contract he has, if you cannot land Duchene, it may be worth the risk to get a player like this and hope that this is the real Paul Byron.
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