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A lot has happened to the Preds in this past decade. At this time ten years ago, the team had never won a playoff series, Pekka Rinne had only been the full-time starting goalie for about ten months, and we still had hope that Alexander Radulov might return to lead Smashville to the promised land.
Another thing that happened in this decade? David Poile earned a reputation as a G.M. willing to make some WILD trades.
Big Trade Dave, as he’s known (by me), made a couple of moves that raised eyebrows across the league. And to his credit, a lot of them paid off.
So today, we’ll look back at Poile’s five best deals of the decade. (Don’t worry, misery lovers, we’ll cover the five worst a little later on).
Sergei Kostitsyn has somewhat of a weird reputation around Smashville nowadays (you know why…). But you can’t deny getting a 50-point guy for a seldom-used role player and a backup goaltender is a pretty good steal.
SK47 had 23 goals and 27 assists in his first year with the Predators, and was a key piece of the puzzle that helped Nashville beat Anaheim. He followed that up with a 43-point season in 2011-2012, providing some depth on what became the Preds’ best season since the Paul Kariya era.
Plus, he never got himself suspended for violating team rules during a playoff series, UNLIKE HIS BROTHER….
The Lightning were in the middle of a rebuild, and were in desperate need of a franchise goaltender. GM Steve Yzerman believed Lindback, who had spent the previous two seasons as Pekka Rinne’s protege, could be the answer.
That didn’t exactly work out. Lindback only wound up playing a total of 47 games in two years with Tampa before being released.
Luckily, us Preds fans got to wallow in their sorrow, because the package of draft picks the Preds got in return was fairly lit. Sissons is a reliable two-way forward who’s now locked into the team’s bottom six for the next seven years. He’s coming off a career-best season points wise, and as of this writing, is on pace to top last year’s 15 goals and 30 points.
Aberg never developed into the electric player the Preds envisioned, but he still has a big role in team folklore. He had the game-winning goal in Game 5 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals (which sent the Preds home with a 3-2 series lead), then assisted on two of the aforementioned Sissons’s three goals in the deciding Game 6.
Fun fact: the Lightning drafted Andrei Vasilevskiy in the first round a week after this trade. So technically, they spent three first or second round picks on goaltenders in 2012. Lol.
The fact that Calle Jarnkrok is the Preds’ co-leader in goals this season makes this entry look even better than it already did.
Legwand, 33 at the time, was in the last year of his deal, and with the Preds in rebuild mode, he was put on the market to bring back younger pieces. One of those pieces wound up being Jarnkrok, a former second rounder who had drastically fallen down the depth chart of Detroit prospects.
Jarnkrok immediately impressed in his initial stint with the Preds, collecting 9 points (2 G, 7 A) in his first 12 games. Since then, he’s developed into one of the team’s best defensive forwards, and a reliable source of depth scoring. Not to mention he’s playing on one of the best bargain contracts in the league.
Legwand, meanwhile, had a decent run in Detroit, but struggled the next couple of seasons, and retired in 2016.
No one got “fleeced.” No player wound up grossly out-performing their counterpart…
These were just two good, bold hockey trades that worked out for everyone involved.
It’s hard to differentiate between these two trades. Not just because they happened around the same time and they were both 1-for-1 deals. But the principle behind them is the same. David Poile was willing to make a bold risk to help the team take their next step forward. And both paid off.
In Johansen, the Predators finally got the #1 playmaking center they had desperately craved since Jason Arnott was traded away five years earlier. Columbus, meanwhile, got the 25-minute-a-night franchise defenseman they had yet to develop in the course of their team’s history.
We saw the same thing happen (albeit on a much more surprising scale) six months later, when the Predators sent captain Shea Weber to Montreal to get Subban. Both are tremendous defensemen and will each retire as two of the all-time greats. But Subban fit in just a bit better with Laviolette’s mobile, puck possession-based defensive system. I mean sure, Subban was traded for cap space three years later. But obviously… *gestures towards Western Conference Championship banner…* the trade served its purpose.
In today’s NHL, we see too many teams afraid to “rock the boat” too much. Perhaps it’s fear of backlash if the deal doesn’t work out, or fear of messing with chemistry in the locker room. It’s why players like Erik Karlsson or Phil Kessel are swapped for packages of prospects, draft picks, and younger guys who still have years to go in their development.
Poile said “nah, forget that,” and rolled the dice on two big deals that helped the Preds become one of the league’s most dangerous teams.
Clark, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole decade…
Yeah, I know. We all the know this story by now. The Capitals wanted some extra scoring support for Ovechkin at the 2013 trade deadline. They were so certain Martin Erat was the missing piece of the Cup puzzle (to be fair, he WAS coming off a 58-point season) that they were willing to part with their 11th overall pick in the prior draft, Filip Forsberg.
Forsberg, of course, has scored at least 26 goals in every full season he’s been with the Preds, and barring something catastrophic, will easily hit that mark again this season. Statistically, he’s become one of the league’s best forwards at creating offensive chances, and has had instant chemistry with any set of teammates he’s been grouped with.
Erat… um… didn’t exactly work out in Washington.
His tenure started with an injury during his debut game, and never had the chance to develop a fit with any of the Caps’ big guns. He scored just 2 goals in 62 games with the team before being shipped to the Coyotes at the deadline. He had another lackluster season before returning to Europe in 2015.
It’s one of the most lopsided deals in league history, and since that’s already been discussed in depth several times, we won’t pile on. We’ll just call it the Preds’ best trade of the decade.
We will… however… leave with you this gem.