Love his philosophy or hate it, you can never say that David Poile doesn’t have a flare for the dramatic.
When the news broke on Saturday evening that an unlikely bidder in the Rick Nash sweepstakes had emerged in the form of the Nashville Predators, I was certain that we were going to be in for a nailbiting few days. While that trade didn’t come to fruition(yet), the Predators made good on their promise to be buyers, nonetheless.
After acquiring Kostitsyn-the-Other early on in the first deal of deadline day, both David Poile and AGM Paul Fenton alluded to a possibility of “more to come.” It took almost until the last minute to make good on that vow, but shortly before the 2 PM CST deadline, Kevin Allen broke the news that the Predators had acquired mammoth Buffalo center Paul Gaustad and a 4th rd pick for a 2012 1st.
After the initial excitement wore off, there was a bit of predictable “we paid WHAT?!” going around. At first blush, this may seem like a big overpayment for a guy that’s basically a better(much) version of Jerred Smithson, but if this is truly the “all-in” year that Poile and our coaching staff has declared it to be, I don’t think a first round pick for the best defensive center and best faceoff man on the market is an overpayment at all.
Still, any time a first round pick is exchanged, people seem to get a little uneasy. Perhaps it’s because for so long, the draft has been the bread and butter on which the Preds’ foundation was built. However, when you examine the bottom third of the NHL entry draft’s first round, you may start to feel a little better about paying such a price. Consider also that the 2012 draft is considered by many experts to be of the “extremely top-heavy” variety, with the talent level dropping off after about pick 15.
Even in a good year, the draft is a bit of a crapshoot. For illustrative purposes, let’s examine the players selected from 2004-2009 at the 25th overall spot(assuming that’s where Nashville would pick, as they would today)
Jordan Caron, Greg Nemisz, Patrick White,Patrik Berglund,Andrew Cogliano,Rob Schremp
Of the group, only Berglund is a top-six player. Andrew Cogliano is a third/fourth line center. The rest aren’t in the NHL and likely never will be.
Is acquiring a 6’5 center that’s one of the best faceoff men in the league, that wore an “A” in Buffalo, and can even provide a little offensive punch from the bottom lines worth one of these guys? Again, the only one I’d trade Gaustad straight up for is Berglund. The rest–not even close.
The Predators are in a “win-now” window. Those opportunities don’t stay open for very long. Giving up a no-sure-bet-to-even-make-the-NHL draft pick that, at best, is 5 or 6 seasons away is a worthwhile gamble, in my opinion.
As for the Predators’ other acquisition, I’m also pleased with the pickup of Andrei Kostitsyn. This move was one of those “smell it a mile away” deals, and while I was wary of the potential cost, to get him without giving up an actual player was a huge win.
Some worry that reuniting the Brothers Kostitsyn will be detrimental to one or both, but in my research and in talking to Montreal fans, most feel it won’t be an issue. When one takes a moment to look at some of the players that were labelled “cancerous” in Montreal– Mike Ribeiro, Mikhail Grabovski, and our own Sergei Kostitsyn– one begins to wonder if maybe the problem wasn’t the players?
While AK46’s production isn’t fantastic this season, it should be noted that he’s been woefully misused– limited PP minutes, poor linemates on the 4th line. As Pierre McGuire noted– if anything will light a fire under Andrei, it’s playing for a contender coached by someone like Barry Trotz. Just look at the wonders it worked for his brother.
Who, by the way, also thinks that better days are ahead for Andrei in Nashville.
At the end of the day, to have added three players at positions of significant need for a cost of only draft picks, Blake Geoffrion, and Jerred Smithson(indirectly) is a huge win for the Nashville Predators.
Hopefully just one win on the way to sixteen.