In a season where trade rumors have been at the top of almost every conversation about the Nashville Predators, Ryan Johansen and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have been widely reported as inquiries done by David Poile. In addition, the fallout in Tampa with Jonathan Drouin has placed him in the same category as the above mentioned names the past few days.
What’s the price of each? Who’s the best fit in Nashville? Only time will tell. For now, we can break it down with a pros-and-cons list for each of the three potential candidates in case a much talked about blockbuster trade becomes a reality in Nashville.
The 23-year-old Columbus product is the most proven NHLer of the trio with four seasons under his belt and still on pace for a really solid 57 points in what some see as a “down” fifth season. Johansen’s hands and skating ability are elite, and he fits the bill of a #1 center for many years to come. The Blue Jackets are reportedly shopping him around because of a rocky relationship with Coach John Tortorella, so the high price for his services may be slightly lowered.
Johansen is only signed through the ‘16-’17 season before reaching restricted free agency and will see a significant increase of salary to 6 million next season after the bargain of 3 million he is receiving now. Contract negotiations between Johansen’s camp and Columbus were contentious before he finally signed before the 2014 season and will likely not be easy after next year.
Coming off two straight 56 point campaigns, RNH can be labeled as consistent with current season totals lining up to be in the same neighborhood. The former #1 overall pick is clustered with quite a few elite forwards of that same pedigree in Edmonton. He is also locked into a contract until 2021. The connection between the Oilers and Predators is easy to see by the simple supply and demand of Edmonton having elite forwards and lacking defense and Nashville being the opposite.
The motivation for the Oilers to trade him away may not be urgent which will only raise the price of acquiring him. Although he is signed long term, 6 million per season isn’t cheap for a player yet to break the 60 point plateau in the NHL.
An elite scoring prospect that has an endless upside. Drouin has requested for a trade from Tampa, so the Lightning getting full value for him is likely out the door with their hands tied. Being just 20 years old, Drouin has another year and a half on an incredibly cheap entry level deal compared to the two others above.
All the talk is about acquiring a top line center, and Drouin is a natural winger. That seems rather counter-intuitive even at his elite skill level. The public display of the discourse between him and the Lightning will undoubtedly increase the number of buyers calling Tampa Bay’s front office. Thus, a bidding war ensues over a player who some may have questions about his character due to the way this demanding of a trade situation is playing out.
These are some of the options Nashville management will have to sift through when mulling over any potential opportunity in the trade market. There’s not a clear cut decision on the page or even an assurance the opposing teams are willing to dance, but none are likely out of the question, as of now, when deciding the best way to improve the Predators.