5 Trades That Shaped The Nashville Predators Into Stanley Cup Contenders

5 Trades That Shaped The Nashville Predators Into Stanley Cup Contenders
Photo: © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Nashville Predators brought high expectations into the 2016-17 season only to play an inconsistent 82 games and enter the playoffs as the second wild card team.
 
That seeding proved to be just a number for the Stanley Cup finalist Predators, who swept Chicago in the first round, marched past St. Louis in six games in the second round, and won their first-ever Western Conference Finals with a 4-2 series victory over Anaheim.
 
It's been a long time coming for the Predators, a team that has only missed the playoffs three times in the past 13 seasons. 
 
Nashville general manager David Poile has become one of the most proactive GMs in recent history and has put together a contender. Now, he and the franchise are reaping the rewards of his efforts.
 
Here are some of the Predators' biggest pieces that have been brought in via trade.
 

Filip Forsberg In, Martin Erat Out

Date: April 3, 2013
There may not be a more lopsided trade in recent NHL history. Washington brought in Erat to gear up for a playoff run? After various deals in the four years since the trade, the Capitals have nothing to show for the loss of Erat, not even a deep playoff run.
 
During his 62 games with Washington, Erat scored just two goals and 27 points and zero points in four playoff games. Forsberg was playing in his native Sweden when he was traded to Nashville. Poile immediately brought Forsberg in as an 18-year-old, and he played the final five games of the 2012-13 season, managing just one assist.
 
Two years later, Forsberg leapt to star status, scoring 26 goals and 63 points as a 20-year-old. He tallied 33 and 31 goals the next two years, respectively, and has become a dynamic offensive weapon with in Nashville.
 

Calle Jarnkrok In, David Legwand Out

Date: March 5, 2014
Poile got the best of Detroit GM Ken Holland when he swapped veteran center and Michigan-native Legwand for Jarnkrok, Patrick Eaves, and Detroit's 2014 second-round pick.
 
Legwand was brought in after injuries to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Detroit overpaid for the rental, who posted four goals and 11 points in 21 game before a pointless five-game, first-round playoff exit.
 
Eaves went pointless in five games with the Predators and was let go in the summer.
 
Poile swapped Detroit's pick to San Jose for the Sharks' second-round pick in 2014 (Jack Dougherty) and fourth-round pick in 2015 (Anthony Richard). Dougherty and Richard are currently playing for Nashville's AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
 
The overall win for Poile is Jarnkrok. While Jarnkrok isn't quite the point producer as the other names on this list, he is a strong bottom-six anchor. The 25-year-old has potted a combined 31 goals and 61 points over the past two seasons and is signed for another five years at a very reasonable $2 million cap hit.
 

James Neal In, Patric Hornqvist Out

Date: June 27, 2014
Neal was coming off of a 27-goal, 61-point campaign with Pittsburgh. It was his seventh straight season on at least 20 goals and two years removed from a 40-goal, 81-point career year.
 
Poile took advantage of Pittsburgh's salary cap issues and swapped Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Hornqvist was coming of his fourth 20-goal season and brought more grit and a bigger net-crashing style to Crosby's wing. He has been a steady fixture in Pittsburgh's top six since the trade and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins last season.
 
Spaling played just one season with Pittsburgh, scoring nine goals and 27 points.
 
Neal has mostly matched Hornqvist's production after a down first year with the Predators. The 29-year-old Neal has still potted two 23-goal seasons and a 31-goal season, as well. He has just one assist in five postseason games this year, but won't be held down for much longer as Nashville looks to continue building on franchise history.
 

Ryan Johansen In, Seth Jones Out

Date: January 6, 2016
Poile had been vocal about his wanting of a true No. 1 center and finally found it in Johansen. Poile opted to trade former No. 4 overall pick Jones from his deep blue line in order to spark the offense.
 
Jones was growing into a strong piece on a Predators blue line that already boasted Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm.
 
Jones continued his development with a huge step forward with Columbus this season. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella made Jones his No. 1 defenseman, averaging a team-high 23:24 of ice time per game. Jones' 12 goals, 30 assists, 42 points, and plus-6 rating were all career highs for the coveted right-shot defenseman, who is still just 22.
 
Johansen had a slow start to the year, but his 61 points tied for the team lead with Viktor Arvidsson. Johansen, 24, is a reliable faceoff-winning playmaker who runs the possession game when he touches the ice. His 14 goals are certainly lower than the 33-goal and 26-goal campaigns he posted in 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively, but his play suggests he can get back to regular goal-scoring. No one player has run the team this season, but it's fair to say Nashville would not be where it currently sits without Johansen as the top-line center.
 

P.K. Subban In, Shea Weber Out

Date: June 29, 2016
One of the most shocking trades in recent history, Poile moved out Weber for Subban, a trade that saw the NHL's two highest-paid defensemen swapped one-for-one. The winner of this trade will be argued for years to come.
 
Subban is no doubt the younger, faster, and more mobile defenseman, while Weber is the bigger, grittier, more defensive player. Weber also shoots the puck harder than any other player and will chip in a few more goals than Subban.
 
Weber started out his tenure with the Canadiens with a whopping eight goals and 18 points in his first 22 games. He finished his first season with 17 goals and 42 points in 78 games, his worst per-game percentage since 2007-08. The 31-year-old scored another goal and two assists in in six playoff games before Montreal's first-round exit at the hands of the New York Rangers.
 
Subban had a similar start to the season with seven goals and 17 points in his first 25 games. A nagging back injury saw him miss 16 games from mid-December to mid-January. It took a few games for the 27-year-old to get back to his regular self. Subban finished the year with 10 goals and 40 points in 66 games with his lowest ATOI since 2013-14.
 
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.
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