NHL Notebook: What’s next for the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues and which NHL vacancies could fill this week

Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
It will be an interesting offseason for many teams around the NHL.
But two of the more fascinating teams to keep an eye on will be the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues. The former will see Barry Trotz taking over as general manager as the first non-Dave Poile GM in franchise history, while the Blues are looking to once again re-tool on the fly.
On Monday’s edition of Daily Faceoff Live, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford talked about the Blues.
Rutherford: Of course, they have the number 10 overall pick, and Armstrong has said a couple times that he’ll be shocked if he’s not walking to the stage in Nashville to make that number 10 overall pick. The Blues haven’t had a lot of high picks. You talk about Erik Johnson, number one overall, Alex Pietrangelo, but that’s been about it. So now they get inside the top 10 with a tough season last year, and then also because of the trades of Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, they’re going to have two later first round picks, #25 and a yet to be determined pick once these playoffs wrap up.
What are the Blues going to do? I think they’ll make that number 10 pick, but the late first rounders, that’s the key question here. There’s a situation where the Blues could make one of those picks available to trade for an established NHL player, trying to pluck somebody in here to keep this team competitive the next couple years during what Armstrong has referred to as a retool, or they could make both of these picks. You look at our staff pool rankings at the Athletic and the Blues not too high in the prospect pool, so I think it’s a situation where they’d be very well inclined to make those picks as well.
And on the same show, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli and Tyler Yaremchuk talked about Nashville.
Yaremchuk: Let’s talk a little bit about the Nashville Predators. It’s the first summer with Barry Trotz at the helm as their GM and man, the amount of picks they have in this upcoming NHL Draft is incredible, Frank. In the next two drafts, really, they have a lot that they could do some damage with. Two firsts this year, two seconds, three thirds, and three fourths. Do you think they’ll take the approach of, hey, let’s flip some of these picks and get some immediate help, or is the smarter play here for Barry Trotz to get some prospects and start stocking the cupboard here in Nashville?
Seravalli: I think that’s the biggest question that I have about the Preds in general, is, what are they trying to accomplish here? Are they trying to rebuild? Are they trying to do this on the fly and become a competitive team again? As I view the Predators and their current roster right now, I’d say that they’re good enough to finish anywhere between, say, eighth and 14th in the West, which is not really any place that you want to be. Could they sneak into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the back of Juuse Saros again? Probably. But there also is a question to ask about Saros and his future in Nashville, given that they’re ultimately gonna have to re-up him at some point and pay him again.


NHL vacancies filling this week?

There’s still a number of unfilled jobs around the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs both need to hire general managers. The Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals all need new head coaches.
On Daily Faceoff Live Monday, Seravalli and Yaremchuk spoke about which spots could fill by week’s end.
Yaremchuk: Let’s talk about a few coaching vacancies that are available, but does it seem like me, or is it a bit quiet on that front, just waiting for the first domino to fall?
Seravalli: Yeah, this week, Tyler is where the rubber will meet the road. There are so many different things happening, and a domino or trickle-down effect that may be connected to all of it is, I think, a lot of it revolves around the pending sale of the franchise. I was thinking we were trending toward the end of last week, and now we are in the any-day-now type of moment for the preferred bidder to emerge for the Senators’ sale.
What do I mean about the domino effect that is connected to that? Well, first of all, there is a holiday weekend involved which always slows things down here in the U.S. There is also Fenway Sports Group; the Pittsburgh Penguins owners were overseas in Monaco at the Grand Prix over the weekend. So, when you look at everything that has happened here, with Kyle Dubas, who has interviewed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, I believe that is his job if he wants it.
But, if you’re Kyle Dubas, why would you jump on the only vacancy available at this exact moment in time, knowing how potentially unattractive the Penguins and that rebuild might be? When you might be able to find out more in the next couple of days, 72 hours about the Senators. A team he grew up cheering for and a team that’s infinitely in a better position to grab hold of, especially with a well-funded ownership group in place. But, they may already have someone depending on who that bidder is for the Senators because some people wonder what kind of dot connects the Sens and the Oilers, who have Steve Staios in office. If Michael Andlauer ends up being the guy, then a lot of people believe he will bring Steve Staios from the Oilers. But do the Oilers step up and promote Staios this week? If not, do other preferred bidders have someone in mind to bring someone with them? Could Kyle Dubas fall into that mix?
Then you start thinking about the coaching side of it and how this impact DJ Smith, what happens with Sheldon Keefe in Toronto and Jon Hynes in Nashville as Barry Trotz and the Predators have been quiet, not to mention all the other coaching vacancies around the league for the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames. Then you have Spencer Carberry and Andrew Brunette, who might have the pick of the litter. I think it all revolves around the nation’s capital, in Ottawa.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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