Analyzing Nashville’s Deadline Moves

Heading into the NHL’s March 21st deadline, GM David Poile and the Nashville Predators had some serious questions to answer. The team’s success in the middle part of their “competitive rebuild” has come as a sweet surprise to Nashville fans. However, it has forced the organization to decide: Will they be a buyer or a seller at the deadline?

After reports surfaced that the Predators were neither trading nor signing star F Filip Forsberg before the deadline, all eyes turned to the trading block. Although David Poile was active, his moves were underwhelming to many and frustrating to some. Though it’s difficult to see an overarching theme behind the organization’s deadline moves, I will attempt to lay them out and determine the thought process behind each one.

D Alex Biega (33)

Nashville takes on Alex Biega’s contract from TOR in exchange for “future considerations.” 

Alex Biega is a 33-year-old defenseman who has played in 2 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs this year. In both games, he went scoreless for the Leafs. Not only has he gone scoreless, but he has also taken just 6 shots in the NHL since the beginning of last season. He has spent most of this season in the AHL for the Toronto Marlies, scoring 7 points in 31 games. 

All these factors signal that this is simply a move to bolster organizational depth. With D-men Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning placed on IR and Philippe Meyers waived, the Preds called up Matt Tennyson and Jeremy Davies to fill the void. With that move, there was a corresponding void open in Milwaukee. Half of that was filled by Meyers when he cleared waivers. The other half was filled here by Alex Biega.

He’s unlikely to get any NHL ice time for Nashville, but this is a cheap move with no downside whatsoever.

D Jeremy Lauzon (24)

Nashville sends 2nd-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft

Likely the only trade piece that has any impact on the 2022 Nashville Predators, Jeremy Lauzon adds physicality to a team predicated on it. Throughout the year, Nashville has had issues with their bottom defensive pairs. More specifically, the team has looked for ways to mitigate Ben Harpur’s negative impact on the defense. Lauzon looks to fill this role nicely.

Though he’s in the red in the +/- category, he’s had the unfortunate task of playing for the Seattle Kraken in 2021-22 after being in the green the previous two seasons. He won’t factor in on the offensive side of special teams, but he shores up a bottom 4 that has taken a lot of criticism throughout the season.

Though I don’t hate the move – Lauzon adds 176 hits to a lineup that already holds the second-most hits per game – it’s extremely difficult to see his value matching that of a second-round pick. It’s equally difficult to believe that Nashville would have been outbid if they offered one of their two 3rd round draft picks for this year. Regardless, Poile saw the bottom of the defense as a serious weakness and was willing to give up high-round capital to try to fix it.

Still, Lauzon won’t be an impact player in the playoffs. This stings, considering the Predators sit comfortably in a playoff position. Heading into an RFA offseason, it seems like Nashville just gave up a second-rounder for a glorified 20-game rental of a bottom 4 defenseman.

RW Brayden Burke (25)

Nashville sends D Frederic Allard (24) to LAK

This move has to be the most puzzling in light of the aforementioned need for a defenseman in the AHL. After scoring 52 points in the AHL in 2019-2020, Burke cleared waivers to start this season. He has yet to replicate his promising offensive output from the 19-20 season and doesn’t seem to be a major player for the NHL squad moving forward. So what’s the point of the trade?

Burke was in desperate need of a team to take a chance on calling him up to the League. Though he hasn’t touched the ice in the NHL, he has a serious chance of being on the ice next season with the potential departures of Yakov Trenin (RFA) and Luke Kunin (UFA). He has much-untested potential on the offensive end, and it’s entirely possible Nashville wanted to be the team to reap the rewards.

However, giving up Frederic Allard and essentially filling his spot with Alex Biega weakens the prospect pipeline and gives the Nashville Predators one less defensive prospect at their disposal. Nashville has been solid at developing defensive prospects in recent years, so maybe this deal won’t be too impactful for them in a negative sense.

Many Nashville fans were hoping for a splashy deadline. It makes sense, considering how close this team seems to being a Cup contender. Two apparent needs for Nashville were at 2nd line scorer and bottom 4 defender. One of these two spots was filled, but the scoring will have to come from what Nashville has on the roster now.

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