To hear Preds GM David Poile explain it, the David Legwand situation is a tricky one.
Legwand, who has played with the franchise in every single season of its existence, is a pending unrestricted free agent. Legwand has a no-movement clause, which Poile said Legwand has yet to waive.
Poile realizes that trading Legwand, tied for the team lead in points, would weaken the Predators since there is no “hockey trade” available — one that would bring players of equal value in return; buyers tend to only want to move draft picks or prospects, not roster players.
“If you tell me I’m getting a first-round and second-round pick, that’s one thing,” Poile said. “If it’s a third-round pick, that’s another. We’re four points out of the playoffs. If I trade (Legwand), it’s going to weaken our team. There’s not a hockey trade out there. I have no ability to trade him anyway.”
This situation is reminiscent to the Ryan Suter saga of 2011-12. Suter, also a pending UFA, anchored the blueline for one of Nashville’s best-ever teams — a 48-win, 104-point club that wanted to make a deep playoff run. As such, the Preds didn’t deal Suter at the deadline, even though signs pointed to him potentially leaving in free agency; instead, the Preds hung onto him (and added several players at the deadline) in the hopes of winning a Cup.
History suggests it was a bad move. Nashville was unceremoniously bounced in the second round and Suter bolted for Minnesota in free agency. For a budget-conscious team like the Preds, it appeared history had written a lesson. Get assets for your assets. Don’t let players walk for nothing.
Which brings us back to Legwand.
While not as impactful as Suter, Legwand could prove useful for a number of playoff-bound teams (which, we remind you, Nashville is not at the moment.) What’s more, Poile isn’t even sure he can resign Legwand this summer.
“Talked to the agent many times, talked to David,” Poile said, per Fox Sports. “He would like to re-sign here. We’re not in a position right now to be able to do that based on a couple of factors … like our budget that we’re looking at for next year and also it’s based on whether we’re a playoff team (or) not a playoff team, what changes we want to make?
“I think he’s going to stay here and maybe the best news would be we make the playoffs and we re-sign him.”
According to Sports Club Stats, Nashville has a 2.3 percent chance of making the postseason. It currently sits last in the Central Division. And while the team is getting franchise goalie Pekka Rinne back, it also has a really tough stretch coming up — from Mar. 10-23, Nashville plays seven of eight on the road… where the Preds are 11-12-6 this season.
Which begs the question: Can Poile afford to hold onto Legwand, miss the playoffs and watch him walk in July?
Based on past experience, the answer — you’d think — would be a resounding no.