Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile feels he has a good understanding of his team.
"When you evaluate our team, we always get pretty good marks for our goaltending, our defense and our defensive play," said Poile. "One of the areas we fall short on is our forwards, and specifically our offense."
He feels he addressed that Thursday, acquiring veteran center Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2011 first-round pick. The Senators also will receive a conditional 2010 draft pick depending on how the Predators fare in the playoffs. If they win one round, the Senators will get a third-round pick; if the Predators advance the Western Conference Finals, it will be a second-round pick.
"Mike Fisher is a player we have always liked," said Poile. "We like everything about his game. He plays hard, he scores pretty good, four of the last five seasons he's scored 20 goals. He plays in all situations, power play, penalty kill. He's appeared in 75 playoff games, that's more than any current Predator player. What I really like is this is not a rental. Mike is signed for the next two years. This is a deal that will hopefully help us down the stretch this year and for more years to come."
Fisher has 14 goals and 24 points this season, and the Predators need all the offense they can get. They entered Thursday's games 26th in scoring at 2.53 goals per game. But with their defense and goaltending the Preds are nearly unbeatable when they get a good offensive output -- they're 23-4-1 when they score three or more goals this season.
"We don't get outworked, we just get outscored," said Poile. "The problem is getting to three goals on every occasion."
He also fills a major hole the Predators have at center. The Preds signed Matthew Lombardi over the summer to be their top-line center, but he suffered a concussion in the second game of the season and has yet to play again. Also, Cal O'Reilly is on injured reserve with a leg injury and Marcel Goc has an upper-body injury that has him questionable for Saturday's game against the Avalanche.
Fisher also is a strong defensive presence, and won 48.4 percent of his faceoffs this season.
"We've been dealing with (injuries) all year," said Poile. "We seem to be right on the cusp of running out of quality players to call up. We were right behind the eight-ball with Lombardi going down. I have to give high marks to our forwards playing in different situations. What this trade does is allow coach (Barry) Trotz to put everyone in their right positions and gives us four really nice lines."
Fisher also brings the missing element of playoff experience to the Predators. He played in 75 postseason games with the Senators, more than any current Nashville player.
"Mike's playoff experience will be invaluable to our team and he immediately makes our team stronger and deeper," Poile said.
Poile said knowing what kind of player and person Fisher is made him a desirable player. It also made him difficult for the Senators to trade. Fisher was drafted by the Senators in the second round of the 1998 Entry Draft, and had played all 11 seasons of his NHL career in Ottawa. He had 167 goals and 348 points in 675 games, and helped the Sens reach the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.
"(Leaving) is very hard, for sure," Fisher told the Senators' Web site. "It's a bit of a shock. I'm still trying to process everything. Not sure if it's set in yet. I wish I could have done more here. I wanted to be part of everything here, but it wasn't meant to be."
"It's a tough trade for us," said Senators GM Bryan Murray. "He's been a good veteran, popular with his teammates, he's popular with the fans. But as we start to rebuild this hockey team and follow the plan we've set out, we thought that it was the right place for him. It gives us some assets going forward, frees up some dollars over the next few years and starts the process for making this team a good team in the future."
Fisher did not have a no-trade clause in his contract, but Murray said he consulted with Fisher prior to moving him anyway.
"He indicated he didn't want to be traded, that he really loved Ottawa and he's been treated well in Ottawa," said Murray. "But in turn, if he was going to be traded I would take into consideration where."
That it's Nashville is perfect for Fisher professionally and personally. His wife, award-winning country music singer Carrie Underwood, is based in Nashville.
"If there was a place to go, it would be there," Fisher told the Senators' Web site. "I'm excited about being part of that team. They're very a good team. It's kind of like going home for me. I'm sure my wife won't be disappointed, either. I think it’s a great place for me and the family."
Murray said he doesn't expect Thursday's deal to be the only one he makes as he tries to rebuild a team currently sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference.
"We have to make room for some younger players," Murray said. "If other teams are interested, I'm sure there will be lots of conversations.
"I feel we have some real top young players coming, Robin Lehner, Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, a couple forwards I could mention. We are going to have to open the door for some of these younger players to play come September. To do that, the hard part of the business is saying good-bye to some of the veteran players."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org