Could this be it for the Nashville Predators, the NHL’s leading producer of splashy trades, even after injecting their name into the Erik Karlsson conversation (seriously or not)?
Not long after making the Mike Fisher signing official and sending Pontus Aberg to Edmonton for a fourth-rounder, the Predators put together an intriguing – and expensive – trade to grab Ryan Hartman from their pals the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Trade: Predators land Hartman and a fifth-round pick; Blackhawks acquire a first-rounder, prospect Victor Ejdsell, and a fourth-rounder.
Why Predators made the trade: Nashville is going for it, but they’ve already added some massive pieces year after year, so maybe the prices for truly premium pieces scared them off?
Hartman, 23, was the 30th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. So far in his career, he has 57 points in 141 regular-season games; he was unable to score against Nashville during that sweep in the first round of the 2017 postseason … which makes him fit in with most of his now-former-teammates. With almost a penalty minute per game so far in his career (130 PIM in 141 games), Hartman brings an edge to his game, as well. (Though there’s also the worry that he might take ill-advised penalties, already a concern if Scott Hartnell plays like the 100 PIM guy he once was, too.)
Hartman is a pending RFA, so while he’s on his cheap ELC now, his asking price may change.
Hartman’s been a reasonably decent possession player, and there have been signs of promise, including fall one goal short of 20 last season. Taking a look at his ice time, particularly lately, and you’ll see that he was falling out of favor with Coach Q in Chicago.
The fifth-rounder softens some of the blow of Nashville giving up quite a bit of futures in this deal.
You wonder if this might be it for the Preds … although maybe that changes a bit after seeing the Jets land Paul Stastny from the Blues in a surprise swap?
Why the Blackhawks made the trade: Chicago’s aware that this is a lost season, so this is about as painless a “sell” as you can ask for, especially with Hartman sliding out of favor.
Amusingly, the first-rounder could end up landing near 30th, much like where Hartman was selected. The Blackhawks would argue that maybe they’d get an even better player there, perhaps?
Chicago also upgrades from a fifth to a fourth-rounder. Granted, that’s unlikely to be a full leap, as the Blackhawks’ fifth-rounder is likely to be fairly early while Nashville’s fourth could be close to the fifth.
Victor Ejdsell, 22, stands as interesting … and also stands as literally very tall.
So far in Sweden, the towering forward has 17 goals and 30 points in 44 games. Maybe he could be a beefy depth scorer for Chicago down the line?
Who won the trade?
That’s a fairly steep price for the Predators, although Hartman is young and currently cheap. They’d likely argue that his physical style gives him enough value to offset the fact that he’s not as big of a name as an aging scorer like, say, Rick Nash.
The Blackhawks get a really nice takeaway, and you wonder if they might load up on assets even more today. Even if they stand pat, adding another first-rounder (even an almost certainly late one) is precious for a franchise that probably wants to “reset” rather than “rebuild.”