On a day that was pretty uneventful around the National Hockey League (only 19 trades, the second lowest since 1993), the Nashville Predators made a minor deal at the last minute, acquiring AHL defenseman Corey Potter from the Arizona Coyotes organization in exchange for future considerations. The announcement came well over an hour after the 2:00pm Central deadline.
Potter is expected to join the Milwaukee Admirals in time for Tuesday’s game in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters.
General Manager David Poile is no stranger to last minute deals. Recently, the acquisitions of Paul Gaustad (2012), Filip Forsberg (2013) and Calle Jarnkrok (2014) were all announced after their respective deadlines had passed.
The Predators have played well lately, going 6-0-3 in their last nine games. With Saturday’s 5-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, they find themselves just six points out of a Central Division playoff spot. Considering they were 12 points out and barely holding onto a wild card as recently as two weeks ago, it’s easy to see how things have come together on lower Broadway.
As a result, toying with chemistry in the room would have been a little dangerous. With that in mind, Poile refrained from any deals that would impact his NHL roster, both by addition or subtraction.
“We didn’t make any moves today with the big club and there are a variety of reasons for that,” Poile told Willy Daunic and Floyd Reese of Sports Night on 102.5 The Game. “I’m really happy with the way we’re playing. Our goaltending has been really solid, our defense has played well and our special teams have really improved.”
Poile also mentioned another reason for the disciplined deadline: the possibility of prospect Jimmy Vesey joining the team once his college season is over. The Harvard senior has been non-committal on what his plans are once the Crimson season ends — whether that be by elimination or with a National Championship — leaving the Predators with a bit of a gamble.
“We feel the best player that could join us in the future is Jim Vesey,” Poile said. “We’ve promised him a spot on our team and we want to keep that spot open. If we had traded for another forward, that could have complicated the situation. I think he’s the best add we could have at this trading deadline.”
Vesey, the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year and a 2015 Hobey Baker finalist, was drafted by Nashville in the third round of the 2012 draft and, therefore, has until August 15 of this year to sign a professional contract before becoming a free agent. Because he’ll be signing an entry-level deal, the financial terms will be pretty much the same no matter where he signs and, the second he steps onto NHL ice, he’ll burn a year of his ELC. Therefore, logic suggests he’ll eventually ink a deal with the team that drafted him because Poile has already promised him a roster spot and because he’d be one year closer to his next contract. If he were to become a free agent on August 15 and then sign with someone, he’ll still be getting the same entry level money but be an extra year away from his first true pay day.
“He has his rights too,” Poile added. “He can be a free agent on August 15 but we’re the only team that can sign him this year so he’d get a chance to play in the playoffs, he’d get a chance to win a Stanley Cup, he’d get a chance to earn some money, he’d get a chance to burn off a year of his contract which, eventually, means more money so there’s a lot of things that we have going for us. The most important one is that we have a spot for him.”
There’s been some speculation that Vesey may want to become a free agent because his father recently became a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s all about relationships,” Poile said. “We’ve been very open and honest with him and he and his family have been very open and honest with us. I see a real good fit here. I just can’t wait until it’s over, we sign him, we get him on our team and we can go from there. But, until that time, nothing is 100 percent. I am very hopeful and I do believe that we’ll get him signed.”
In other news, the Preds loaned Viktor Arvidsson to the Milwaukee Admirals for a short period of time Monday. Arvidsson has had an impressive season at the NHL level (seven goals and 11 points in 37 games) and Nashville is making sure he’s available for the Ads’ post season run by adding him to the AHL roster on deadline day, the requirement for any player to participate in the Calder Cup Playoffs.