The NHL-leading Nashville Predators — now 4-2-2 since losing Pekka Rinne to injury — don’t seem primed for the plateau some expected, and are firmly in the conversation for Stanley Cup contention.
Which begs the question — will history repeat itself?
When we spoke with Nashville Predators general manager David Poile last month, he said a top-six forward would be his priority ahead of the March 2 trade deadline.
Just what exactly he will do remains to be seen, but word is the veteran Nashville hockey man is calling around quite a bit.
“David, I think, wants to go for it, that’s the sense I get,” one Eastern Conference team executive told ESPN.com Tuesday.
Not overly surprising to hear.
During the 2011-12 campaign, Nashville went into the Feb. 27 trade deadline as a top-four team in the Western Conference, with a 36-19-7 record and 79 points. Accordingly, Poile made a bounty of moves to put the Preds over the top: Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn were acquired from Montreal, Paul Gaustad was brought in from Buffalo and Alexander Radulov was shipped over from the KHL.
“We’ve put ourselves in a real good position here,” Poile said after dust settled, per the Nashville City Paper. “[The moves] have certainly given us a chance to play with the big boys this year. We’re done. I’d say we’re real happy. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.
“Each one of these players has a role and can add to what I think is already a good team. I think we’ve done a lot. We’ve done as much, if not more, than anybody else.”
Nashville, of course, did not end up playing with the big boys. They flamed out in the second round of the playoffs with a disappointing five-game loss to the Coyotes — a series highlighted (or, lowlighted) by Kostitsyn and Radulov getting suspended for breaking team curfew.
In the end, Poile’s aggression at the deadline backfired. Only Gaustad remains with the team and the Preds flatlined quickly thereafter, missing the next two postseasons.
Which brings us back to the present. Poile’s past moves could be used as a learning lesson… or, a foreshadow of what’s to come. It’s hard to suggest he’ll suddenly get gun-shy, because he’s been traditionally aggressive at the trade deadline well beyond 2012; in ’11, he got Mike Fisher out of Ottawa and, during the 2006-07 season, kicked off the frenzy 12 days early by prying Peter Forsberg out of Philadelphia.
What does the league’s third longest-tenured GM have in store this time around?