With their defeat in game seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, speculation immediately began about the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. Many are talking about the possibility of firings and massive trades. The firing of Head Coach Dan Bylsma seems almost imminent after another agonizing defeat.
Which begs the question: with a team in the grips of massive change, where do the Nashville Predators fit into the potential Penguins rebuilding saga?
First things first, the Predators could bring in Dan Bylsma on the coaching staff. This seems unlikely, however. Bylsma has Stanley Cup experience, and will most likely find himself in a head coaching job elsewhere. That is, if he gets fired at all.
Second, many Predators fans will undoubtedly fantasize about trading for Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. They have been the core of this Penguins squad for years. Many in the hockey community are speculating that a trade involving one or both of these two is possible. They could be very big trade bait this summer if management decides to do a complete overhaul of the team. This also seems like a very unlikely move for Nashville, however. Blockbuster trades are not a thing the Predators tend to do. They have not made a true blockbuster trade yet in their existence. Also, a trade for Crosby or Malkin would almost certainly require moving captain Shea Weber, and I know for a fact that David Poile does not want to do that. Weber is the core of this team, and moving him would not be plausible.
If the Predators are to do anything, it would most likely be an off-the-radar trade. Guys like Chris Kunitz and James Neal are potential trade targets this summer. This would not be a blockbuster by any means, but the Predators are in the market for solid forwards, and these players fit that mold. These guys have been great so far in Pittsburgh, and would bring an instant boost to the Nashville offense. The asking price would not be nearly as high as a trade for Crosby or Malkin would.
The other option the Predators have is to sign free agents leaving Pittsburgh. After a disappointing exit, players may want to abandon ship. One particular player that comes to mind is Jussi Jokinen. He was a picked up at the Trade Deadline last season, and they probably won’t keep him. He is 31 years old, and would provide great veteran leadership for a younger Predators squad. He played phenomenally at the end of the season, scoring seven goals in the playoffs.
In reality, the Predators will probably be otherwise-occupied this offseason and will do nothing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will spend more time wooing Paul Stastny and other free agents. Don’t anticipate anything other than possibly a minor trade or free agent signing with Pittsburgh come July.