Kevin Fiala

Associated Press

While Turris continues to roll, Duchene still stuck in first gear

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Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, sometimes it isn’t.

The two focal points of the biggest trade this season so far in the National Hockey League find themselves on opposite sides of the old expression.

On the ‘grass isn’t’ side, we find Matt Duchene, now an Ottawa Senators player after getting shipped to Canada’s capital from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal (that also included the Nashville Predators, but more on that in a moment) earlier this month.

Duchene, unhappy in the Colorado Rockies, has now gone six games without a point in his new threads.

On the ‘greener side,’ we find Kyle Turris, now a member of the Nashville Predators, who was shipped out of Canada’s capital after contract negotiations between his former team, the Senators, “did not see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Unlike Duchene, (his trade partner?) Turris has found new life in Music City. In six games, Turris has two goals and three assists and scored this five-hole goal on Wednesday to help the Predators get past the struggling Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the shootout.

Turris’ arrival on the Predators’ second line has been of great assistance to 21-year-old forward Kevin Fiala as well.

Fiala has six points, including two multi-point outings, since Turris arrived on Nov. 5 and is well on his way to eclipsing his rookie season point total of 16 last year with two goals and 11 assists in 20 games this season.

It was no secret the Senators wanted Duchene, badly, in the days leading up to the deal that finally got done. Turris and the Sens couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension and thus the 28-year-old became expendable. The results thus far, at least on the scoresheet, haven’t matched the steep price required to get Duchene.

But it’s not all bad. Some consolation for Sens fans:

And it’s not to say results won’t come.

Duchene has 23 shots in those six games. There would be more concern if he wasn’t getting chances.

An immediate winner in any high-profile swap is always hotly debated. Turris has had a strong start in Nashville, but he went to a team that is a few months removed from being in the Stanley Cup Finals and are looking like strong contenders once again.

Duchene is a highly-skilled player who scored 30 goals two years ago. The chemistry with Bobby Ryan just hasn’t blossomed just yet. Give it time.

The thing about trades is this: a clear-cut winner is often never determined a few weeks after the deal is made.

Duchene summed it up rather succinctly on Tuesday in the Ottawa Sun:

“I’ve said it many times, a season is full of peaks and valleys and 10 games from now, we could be having a totally different conversation.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Looking to make the leap: Kevin Fiala

There are a handful of Nashville Predators prospects hoping to make the leap in 2015-16.

Kevin Fiala distinguishes himself by saying that he will pull it off, as Preds GM David Poile noted at a fan gathering back in June.

“At the end-of-the-year meetings when [Head Coach] Peter Laviolette and I are talking to players, we’re usually the ones doing 90 percent of the talking,” Poile said. “So we did the talking to Kevin and then he says, ‘What do I need to do, I’m going to be playing for the Nashville Predators next season. I’m not going to [AHL affiliate] Milwaukee, I’m going to be playing [in Nashville].’”

Those are some bold words, yet the 19-year-old may just sense a pattern forming.

As the 11th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, Fiala experienced quite the 2014-15 season. It began in Sweden with Jonkoping, but the Predators brought Fiala over to the AHL in January. He performed nicely at both levels (including scoring 20 points in 33 games with the Milwaukee Admirals) and even saw a game of regular season and playoff action with the Predators.

Poile believed that Fiala would benefit from the jump, noting the development process for Swedish sensation Filip Forsberg.

” … By getting a head start on the acclimation process to the North American style of play and smaller rinks, we expect Kevin – like Filip Forsberg two seasons ago – will continue his growth as a dynamic offensive prospect,” Poile said in a release when Fiala came to the U.S. early in 2015.

The pedigree and swagger are there in droves, yet opportunity might not strike.

On the Forecheck spotlights the uphill battle that Fiala (not to mention other intriguing young players like Austin Watson and Colton Sissons) face cracking the Predators’ forward lineup:

Even with shipping Taylor Beck to Toronto, there are too many regular NHLers on the bottom two lines to accommodate the rookies in waiting. The bridge that separates the prospects from the NHL is about ready to collapse under all the weight of those loitering on it.

It won’t be easy, especially if Poile & Co. prefer to see Fiala get big minutes in the AHL rather than a depth role in the NHL, but at least Fiala isn’t going about his business meekly.

Deadline pickups Franson, Santorelli likely in for Preds after sitting Game 1

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After blowing a 3-0 lead and losing their series opener against Chicago in OT, the Predators appear to be making some lineup changes.

Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli, acquired from Toronto just prior to the trade deadline, look as though they’ll play tonight after sitting out Game 1. Franson, who had been dealing with an upper-body injury that lingered from the regular season, said he feels ready to get back into action for the first time since Apr. 9.

As for Santorelli, an injury to Mike Fisher looks as though it’ll play in his favor. Head coach Peter Laviolette wouldn’t confirm the move, but it’s expected Santorelli — who’s posted four points (one goal, three assists) in 22 games with Nashville — will get in ahead of ’14 first-rounder Kevin Fiala, who also sat out Game 1.

“He brings a lot of speed to the lineup,” Laviolette said of Santorelli, per The Tennessean. “He’s capable of contributing offensively. He’s a reliable player. We can use him on the penalty kill. I think he’s been an effective player for us in the role we’ve asked him to play in. If Mike gets in there, tonight, we have no question he’ll be able to do the job.”

Predators lock up 2014 first-round pick Fiala

A busy day for the Nashville Predators was capped off nicely by taking care of their 2014 first-round pick.

The Predators announced they’ve signed Swiss forward Kevin Fiala to his three-year entry-level contract. Unlike the Predators other two signings today, Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy, it’s not expected Fiala will crack the Predators roster next season.

Fiala was taken 11th overall by the Predators in this year’s draft and played with HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League last season. If he doesn’t make the Predators, he could wind up back in Sweden or play in Milwaukee with the Preds’ AHL team.

As for the player, he’s obviously very excited to get the deal done.

Could the Panthers trade down twice at NHL Draft?

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The Florida Panthers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to the NHL Draft. Owning the No. 1 pick means they’ve got their choices of anyone they want. They also have the choice to trade down if it means getting a better haul.

The idea of Panthers GM Dale Tallon trading out of the top spot has been kicked around lately, but CBC’s Elliotte Friedman floats the idea in his 30 Thoughts the Panthers could deal down twice and still get their guy.

It would take a couple of different conditions to make it work :

  • The Buffalo Sabres are expected to take either of the top centers in Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett at second overall. If a team like the Islanders or Flames wanted to jump to No. 1 to get either of them ahead of Buffalo, that would allow Florida to drop to fourth or fifth to change spots and get something else out of that team.
  • From there, the Panthers could deal down again if they expect one of the players they have their eye on is still available. That means Florida could slide down again slightly if there’s another player a team below them is eager to grab.

Florida has a need to fill at wing and guys like William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kevin Fiala, Kasperi Kapanen, and Brendan Perlini could/should be Top 15 picks. That gives Florida a wide array of guys to potentially settle on.

It’s all hypothesis at this point, but the drama on draft day could be sky high for the Panthers and any of the teams (outside of Buffalo perhaps) in the top 10.