Predators general manager David Poile moved some of his chips towards the center of the table today, unloading a first-rounder in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012 to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for veteran center Mike Fisher.
Fisher had a career season in 2009-10 with 53 points. Fisher’s production hasn’t been there consistently for the Senators this season (24 points, minus-19 rating in 55 games), but which player has had a successful campaign on a team that is flirting with the cellar and has lost 17 of the last 18 games?
The 30-year-old Ontario native is not a big-time goal-scorer by any means; his highest total was 25, just last season. With that said, Fisher makes the Predators better at what they do. He’s fast, hard on the puck, plays well in both ends of the ice and can play in all situations. He’ll certainly fit into Barry Trotz’s system.
“We were looking for a top-six forward,” Poile said this afternoon. “Mike Fisher is a player that we have always liked. We like everything about his game. He plays hard, he scores pretty good. In four of the last five seasons, he’s scored 20 goals.”
One of the reasons why Poile made this move was to help the team’s chances come playoff time. Fisher has a lot of experience in the postseason (75 games to be exact). He instantly makes the team deeper down the middle and should slide into one of the top two pivot slots.
Nashville now won’t have to rely on David Legwand and Marcel Goc being their top two centers. It also helps soften the blow of Matthew Lombardi’s injury, even though he has been out of the lineup since the second game of the year.
The first-round pick (plus a conditional) may look like a steep price for Poile to surrender. However, Nashville would probably have not given up that much if this was simply a rental pickup. Fisher has two years remaining on his contract past this year, and will make $7 million in that time (despite his $4.2M annual cap hit).
“What I like is that this is not a rental,” Poile said. “Mike is signed for the next two years. This is a deal that is hopefully going to help us down the stretch this year and will hopefully help us for a lot of years to come.”
It should also be considered a success that Poile did not surrender a prospect for Fisher. Though the Preds’ general manager treats draft picks like gold, they are no certainty.
“The first-round pick – that’s a lot to give up in any deal,” Poile said. “But with what we have coming and how we have drafted, we’re pretty comfortable that this is a fair deal.”
It may also have been an easier pill to swallow than normal for Poile, considering he does have a pair of second-rounders in his cupboard.
I did not expect the Preds to pick up a non-rental, considering the players they’ll need to re-sign in the next two years (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne, etc.). Perhaps the new blood in the front office was right when they said they’d spend more to help the on-ice product? I am sure Poile has a plan in place to work everything out financially past this year.
Overall, this is a pretty wise acquisition by the Predators and makes them more dangerous going forward. Some fans in Nashville wanted a top-flight goal-scorer at the deadline; none are available this season. And if they were, Poile would have had to pay an ever steeper price to get one.
This deal shows Nashville’s commitment to make some noise this season. It also shows that Ottawa may be serious about tearing everything down and rebuilding the team, as Fisher was a well-liked player in that city.
What else does this trade mean? Carrie Underwood is back in the Music City, of course!