When general manager David Poile pulled the trigger and landed Mike Fisher yesterday, the Nashville Predators were a fifth place team in the Western Conference competing to stay in the playoff picture with an outside shot at chasing down the Detroit Red Wings for the Central Division title. After the trade, they remained in the same position but the move showed that the Predators were committed to doing what it takes to not only make the playoffs but go deep into a run at the Stanley Cup.
In the preseason, when the Predators acquired Shane O’Brien, I wrote “The Predators are clearly saying that they are not planning on just making the playoffs or hoping to finally break into the second round. They are saying that they are not happy with the early exit last season and are building a team that is tough enough to make a run at the cup.” Ditto! on the same statement after the Fisher trade. This move was for the Cup and nothing else.
On Wednesday morning Coach Barry Trotz told Nick Cotsonika, ““It’s not about survival. It’s about winning Stanley Cups now.” This trade further proves that point.
Poile explained that Fisher was “not a savior,” but clearly stated, “Mike’s playoff experience will be invaluable to our team and he immediately makes our team stronger and deeper.”
“He plays playoff-style hockey all season long. He plays on the power play, kills penalties, is strong on draws and can match up against any opposing line.”
I have had a clear understanding of the financial structure of this team and have always tried to keep focused on that aspect when considering moves the Preds have made. The reality appears to be changing on the financial front.
According to Cap Geek, the Preds are now at $51,013,844 in cap hit and are up to 21st in the NHL in salary rankings. They are closer to the limit than they are to the floor. This season is the first time that has happened since the mad dash to the President’s Trophy and the subsequent salary dump in the summer of 2007.
A large part of the Predators’ financial strategy has been based on revenue sharing and Poile does not feel this trade will have a negative effect. “The revenue sharing in Nashville is somewhat of a complicated situation in which there are different things that you qualify for and don’t qualify for. The major thing that we qualify for is attendance, and as you know, our attendance has done very well and is trending for almost all of the points of revenue sharing we will hit this year.”
When asked about other moves before the deadline, Poile claimed to be happy with the team right now but did not rule out other additions.
“We’re still trying to get a couple of players back from injuries and you’d like to see how Fisher fits in, how he plays, and how our lines are,” said the GM.
“The good thing is that we made this move a couple of weeks before the trade deadline so we have time to adjust and if something pops up we can address that at the time. I feel pretty good about our roster right now and I would hope for good health and keep it close to what it is right now.”
Poile was questioned on how the additional two year commitment of $7 million would affect the signing of defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
“This is a good thing that he is signed for two more years,” he said. “His cap hit is $4.2 million but his cash is $4 million next year and then $3 million after that.”
Finally, Poile said what all Preds fans want to hear.
“Our ownership is demonstrating that they are willing to do whatever they can to not only make the playoffs but to hopefully win some rounds in the playoffs,” Poile said.
Again, just like the addition of O’Brien in the preseason was a sign, the Fisher trade is a continuation of the same drive and commitment in this organization, that was born in the first round loss to Chicago last season, and will not be completed until there is a parade down Broadway with the Stanley Cup in tow.
As Charlie Daniels might say, “Ain’t it good to be alive and be in Tennessee” (or be a Predators fan).