When “Moneyball” hit theaters and somehow translated a great but niche book into a big-time money maker, it was hard for hockey people to avoid comparing the Nashville Predators to the Oakland A’s of those days.
The crux of Billy Beane’s radical re-thinking of that franchise revolved around finding a new way to do business after the loss of stars like Jason Giambi, but Predators GM David Poile is taking a different approach. Instead of accepting life as a smaller market hockey team that needs to scrap year after year, the humble old Predators are pushing all their chips to the middle of the table this time around.
Poile doesn’t want to see his slugger Shea Weber or fellow defensive stud Ryan Suter go, so the Predators tried to “court” the duo with a bevy of moves. Poile wasn’t trying to play coy about his motives, either, as you can see in this NHL.com article.
“Obviously, we hope the moves today show Ryan and all of the players on our team that the ownership is committed,” Poile said. “We’ve had plenty of talks with Ryan and it’s been unfortunate that our — I think we’ve done a good job here in Nashville of building our team and the franchise and you can see the building’s getting more full on a regular basis, but unfortunately, from a budgetary situation we’ve had to let some of our better players go from time to time.
“Hopefully, we can stop that. Obviously, signing Ryan Suter would be a huge sign for our whole franchise and our fans … that those days are over and, hopefully, a good playoff run will get Ryan signed up.”
No doubt about it, this isn’t the measured approach usually displayed by Poile. Sure, they’ve gone bold before with the ill-fated Peter Forsberg trade, but that was still a rental. Everything about this run feels different; the big contract for Pekka Rinne, a heavy cost for Paul Gaustad and other stakes-raising moves show that the Predators aren’t going to sit idly by.
Of course, the flip side is that if Suter leaves anyway, Poile & Co. must clean up that mess with a deficit in picks and some prospects. Honestly, I’m not so sure that breaking from the franchise’s script is the best idea, but it’s hard to blame Poile for his urge to pause the cycle of growth and loss.
What do you think, then? Are these gambles worth it or will these acts of desperation come back to haunt them?