Nashville GM David Poile Is the Predators' MVP
Poile has made three franchise-altering trades since 2013 that are directly responsible for helping the Predators reach the Western Conference finals for the first time.
Photo by Mark Humphrey/AP
David Poile is one of the NHL's top executives, and as his team reaches new depths in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, his three most scrutinized deals are paying off huge for the Nashville Predators.
In front of an absolutely rabid crowd in Nashville, the Predators advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time ever on Sunday, following up a historic sweep of the Blackhawks by downing the Blues in six games. Aside from the otherworldly play of goaltender Pekka Rinne and an offensive surge from 2009 No. 11 overall pick Ryan Ellis, three players acquired in trades since 2013 have been key cogs to Nashville's engine this postseason and are leading the Predators charge toward, perhaps, the team's first Stanley Cup.
P.K. Subban, Ryan Johansen, and Filip Forsberg have been beasts in all three zones for the team that none of them were drafted by. Here's a look at the trio of trades which collectively turned the Predators' core into that of a championship contender.
Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta (April 2013)
The yield from an insanely one-sided deal in 2013 was Forsberg, a perennial All-Star in the making. Unlike two future trades that shaped the direction of the franchise, general manager David Poile barely had to give up a bag of pucks to acquire Forsberg, sending Michael Latta and Martin Erat (yeah, exactly) to Washington for the rights to the young Swede.
In three seasons since his 2014-15 rookie year, Forsberg has played all 82 games in each while averaging 30 goals per season with a 55.8 even strength Corsi. He's been exceptional this postseason, too, sitting second on the team in points (eight) and tied for second in goals (three) while playing 20:37 per game.
Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones (early 2016)
The same year Forsberg was acquired, the club selected defenceman Seth Jones with the No. 4 overall pick. Jones was starting to flourish in his third campaign with the Predators, but was shipped to Columbus in a stunning midseason trade that brought Johansen, a 6'3" centreman, to Music City in return. The trade actually helped both clubs reach new heights in 2016-17, as the Blue Jackets posted a best-ever 108-point season and hit the 50-win mark for the first time before getting knocked out in the first round by the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
Johansen, meanwhile, has been the goal-scoring, franchise-changer up the middle the team was missing. Poile dealt from a position of strength, trading defence to acquire a two-way No. 1 centre that few teams in the NHL have in their arsenals. Johansen suited up for all 82 games this regular season, leading the Preds with 47 assists and tying Viktor Arvidsson for the team lead with 61 points, while posting a Corsi just shy of 60 percent—by far the best of his career. Through 10 games this postseason, Johansen is tied with Ellis for the team lead in points with nine, while recording a team-high seven assists.
P.K Subban for Shea Weber (offseason 2016)
In one of the most dissected and debated deals to ever make its way across the NHL trade wire, Poile acquired Subban from the Montreal Canadiens this past summer. He didn't come cheap, though, as the Preds had to flip their captain and perennial All-Star Shea Weber to the Habs in exchange for the vibrant personality and undeniable talent of Subban. It was Nashville's second straight season with an increasingly rare one-for-one 'hockey trade' and was the second straight time a deal of that calibre worked out almost perfectly for the Predators.
To nobody's surprise, except maybe a certain general manager and former head coach in Montreal, Subban has been everything the Predators' organization could've possibly imagined when they picked up the shifty 27-year-old. Despite missing 16 games, he notched 10 goals and 30 assists in the regular season while averaging the second-highest ice time (24:24) among Predators skaters and the second-highest Corsi (54.1) of his career. Subban's continued to roll through the first two rounds of this year's postseason, posting seven points in 10 games, including a breakout three-point performance in Game 1 against the Blues, where he found his shot again to set the offensive tone for the rest of the series.
Three franchise-altering trades made by Poile over the past four seasons have paved the way for Nashville's first trip to the Western Conference final in team history. Absolutely rolling with as good a chance as any to win it all this season, the Predators' candidate for playoff MVP may not be found on the ice, but rather in the press box.