Tuesday, February 28, 2012
With the acquisition of Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad on Monday, along with the acquisition of Hal Gill on February 17th, the Nashville Predators were considered big winners of the trade deadline by almost all of the experts and pundits. But what will the newest Predators bring to the lineup for the remainder of the season, and will these moves by David Poile be enough to solve the Ryan Suter and Shea Weber situation?
The decision to reunite Andrei with his younger brother Sergei has been met with mixed emotions across Pred Nation over the past 24 hours. It has been reported that the two brothers didn't mesh well while they were in Montreal, but there have also been reports stating that there were no major problems between the two at all when they were both members of the Canadiens.
Since coming to Nashville, Sergei has thrived. He was the leading goal scorer for the Predators in the 2010-2011 season, and is having another productive year for Nashville this season. The Predators hope to work the same sort of magic with Andrei.
Andrei has been a 20 goal-scorer in three out of the past four years in the NHL. This season with a Montreal team that has been in disarray, he had 12 goals and 12 assists. However, if he's able to live up to his potential in Nashville, the Predators will have acquired a true difference maker. He has a rocket for a shot, and he has the ability to make a highlight-reel play when he has the puck.
Gaustad is a guy that is excellent in the faceoff circle, and he brings an added element of size that the Predators lack at the center position. He's not a huge offensive threat, but he's a guy that can play in a lot of different situations on a nightly basis.
He's not afraid to drop the gloves and stick up for his teammates. Gaustad adds another veteran leader to the lineup, and is really a replacement of Jerred Smithson in a lot of ways. He's a top 10 faceoff guy, brings a physical edge to his game and has a lot of leadership skills. He could have a huge impact for the Predators during the playoff run.
Gill's impact has already been on display. The Predators are 4-0-1 since Gill has been in the lineup, and his presence on the penalty kill has been felt. He absolutely shut down the Ryan Kesler line in the Predators 3-1 victory over Vancouver last Tuesday night, and his big body allows him to make certain plays that other defensemen can't make.
One of the most valuable assets that Gill has is his experience. He has played in more regular season games in his career than the Predators have as a franchise. He's won a Stanley Cup, and he knows what it takes to get the job done. Tools like that are invaluable come playoff time.
IMPACT ON THIS SEASON
With these new additions, the Predators have addressed the necessary areas that they needed to in order to compete for the Central Division title and to compete for the Stanley Cup.
In last year's second round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, Kesler was the big difference in that series. The Predators didn't have a sufficient shutdown defensemen on the second defensive pairing. With the addition of Gill, they have that physical player that can be a huge difference maker.
With the addition of Andrei, the Predators have added another top-six forward. He is a guy that has the potential to be an electrifying player. He just has to prove that he can. The new environment in Nashville could be the spark that will increase his productivity. It definitely worked for his brother.
Gaustad adds the physical, gritty forward. Most of all, however, he adds depth at the center position. Depth is the common theme with all of the acquistions that Nashville has made. The Predators are now a deep hockey team, and that depth will be absolutely crucial during the playoff run. Each of the new players that the Predators added are rental players, which means that the Predators are going for it all this season.
One of the hot topics around the NHL is how do these acquisitions by the Predators affect the future of Suter and Weber?
Suter and Weber have made no secret about the fact that they want to win. With the additions that Poile has made over the past two weeks, he has sent a message to Suter and Weber that the Predators are serious about competing for a Stanley Cup championship.
Will the new additions be enough to convince Suter and Weber to sign a long-term deal with the Predators? Only time will tell. But one thing is clear: The Predators are no longer satisfied with being a good team. They want to be a great team.
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)