Trade Deadline Opinions From Nashville
The end of BBG’s trade deadline coverage has finally arrived. After covering the Sabres’ moves from a Buffalo perspective, a Vancouver perspective, and a dual Buffalo-Vancouver perspective, it’s time to see how this looks from a Nashville perspective. To do that, I’ve enlisted the help of Smashville 24/7’s Ryan Porth. After the jump, Ryan talks about the Goose and what the Preds are expected to do this postseason.
With insight into not only Gaustad’s but also the Preds’ expectations, here’s Ryan Porth:
Paul Gaustad was a much needed addition to the Predators lineup. He brings size and depth down the middle, which are obviously two things that teams cannot have enough of come playoff time. He also brings experience. But there are two other areas where Gaustad is expected to contribute the most.
First is the penalty kill. The Predators have been solid on the penalty kill in the second half of the season, especially following the addition of behemoth defenseman Hal Gill. Gaustad should only help on that unit. He has the second-best penalty kill faceoff percentage in the league, which should pay dividends beyond Game 82. His presence on the unit should also free up some “hard minutes” – as Barry Trotz likes to put it – for Mike Fisher, allowing him to play more offensive minutes.
Second is the faceoff circle. Gaustad is one of the best in the league in the faceoff dot and will help a Predators team that is ranked 23rd in that category. The Predators’ top two centers, Fisher and David Legwand, have been less than 50% of their faceoffs this season. Gaustad will be relied upon to win crucial faceoffs in crunch time, taking that responsibility away from youngster Nick Spaling.
How will Gaustad’s presence affect the Predators down the stretch and in the playoffs? That is still an unknown, obviously. Between Gill, Gaustad and Andrei Kostitsyn, I believe it will be more of a collective boost from the deadline acquisitions, rather than any of the individuals standing out individually.
The Preds were ousted by Vancouver in the second round last spring, with the only reason being Ryan Kesler’s dominance. Gill and Gaustad were, in part, added to prevent that situation from happening again. Those two aren’t afraid to throw their weight around and use their size to their advantage, something the Preds lacked last postseason.
Led by their balanced scoring and bulked-up blue-line, the Preds are definitely going to be a hard team to play against in the playoffs. With Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter patrolling the back end, some teams and pundits view the Preds as the team no one wants to face in the Western Conference playoffs.
If the Preds go deep this spring, I would expect Gaustad to play a key role on the third/fourth line, in the faceoff dot and on the penalty kill.
GM David Poile traded Jerred Smithson to Florida with Gaustad in mind as a possible upgrade. Though it cost Poile a first-round pick, if Gaustad contributes in the areas the coaching staff expects him to and the team wins in the playoffs, it will be worth it.
Poile isn’t worried about what this summer’s draft picks are going to do four years down the road. He wants to – and needs to – win now.
Unfortunately for Tennessee hockey fans, Gaustad has missed his first two games as a Predator due to a shoulder injury. Provided it isn’t serious, he should be in the lineup Saturday against the Panthers. For any Sabres fans interested in watching, game time is 7:30PM EST.