Boston Bruins: Predators on the Rise is Bad News for Bruins

Mar 30, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) shoots the puck against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) shoots the puck against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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At the beginning of the month of March, the Nashville Predators looked like a team that was guaranteed to be sellers at the trade deadline and teams like the Boston Bruins were lining up to be prime pickers of the few goods Nashville still had.

But that may all be changing now. The Predators were rumored to have highly-touted defensemen Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis on the trade block, as well as forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. However, Nashville has now won six games in a row, are winners of eight out of their last nine games and suddenly have gone from a lottery candidate to tied for the fourth and final playoff spot with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central division.

Nashville GM David Poile recently went on the radio station, 102.5 The Game, in Nashville, and had this to say about the upcoming deadline.

What does this mean for the Bruins?

Well, the name, at least among defensemen, that has been most frequented with the Bruins at the deadline might now be off the board. Mattias Ekholm was regarded as one of the top defensemen that was available for teams to trade for, with the Bruins being potential suitors. The Swedish defensemen has 15 points on the season, with 73 shots on net, 36 blocked shots, and a plus-11 rating.

Bringing in Ekholm would improve the Bruins’ weaker left side on defense, creating a top-four of Ekholm, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk. Add in the fact that Ekholm has one more year after this season left with a very team-friendly cap hit of $3.75 million, and he’s a prime candidate for anyone looking to bolster their defensive core – i.e. the Boston Bruins.

In addition, any available winger should be on GM Don Sweeney’s list and that includes both Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson. Forsberg has been nearly a point-per-game player, with 29 points in 34 contests. He leads the Preds in points, assists, and tied for the lead in goals. He can put the puck in the net, which the Bruins desperately need from someone not named Bergeron, Marchand, or Pastrnak.

While Forsberg might be the sexy option, Arvidsson might be the best asset the Predators have to trade. His 18 points in 37 games are overshadowed by Forsberg’s production, but he leads the team in shots on goal with 121. He’s had a couple of down years the past two seasons, but had a string of three seasons in a row where he scored 29 or more goals.

He has three years left on his contract with an AAV for $4.25, so it’s not unreasonable. There would be the long-term security with Arvidsson that Forsberg doesn’t have, as Forsberg’s a pending unrestricted free agent. The asking price would be much lower from Poile for a player like Arvidsson than Forsberg and could make him an option for the Bruins to go after, if he’s available.

Ultimately though, if the Predators keep winning, the chances of them being sellers diminishes with every victory. Tampa Bay, Florida, and Carolina have pulled away from the pack in that division, with the Hurricanes 10 points ahead of fourth-place Nashville and Chicago. But it will be a dogfight for that final playoff spot, with Columbus just three points out and even Dallas out by just seven points.

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Sweeney may need to begin to consider that Poile wants to hold onto his guys and make a run for the postseason. If so, there goes a top defenseman the Bruins could have traded for, in addition to two wingers that have proven records of scoring that come off the board.