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Predators fill a need without breaking the bank

by Corey Masisak /
The Nashville Predators needed an offensive boost and the Ottawa Senators are ready to remodel.

Nashville acquired center Mike Fisher from Ottawa for a first-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft and a conditional 2012 selection. The pick will be a third-round choice if Nashville wins a playoff series for the first time in franchise history, and it becomes a second-rounder if the Predators win two or more.

Preventing goals has been a strength for the Predators, but scoring them has been a problem. Nashville is 26th in the NHL in goals per game this season. The Predators had only three players with more than 10 goals this season and none with more than 16.

Fisher has 14 goals and 24 points for the Senators this season, and will likely slide into a spot on one of Nashville's top two lines. He had career highs of 25 goals and 53 points a season ago, and is well-regarded as a two-way center. He can provide some offensive help without straying from Nashville's philosophy of being sound defensively.

The Predators added a front-line center through free agency this summer, but Matthew Lombardi has not played this season because of a concussion. Nashville has been using Marcel Goc in the middle on the second line with David Legwand centering Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist on the top unit. Expect Fisher to push one of them to the third line and for him to settle in on one of the power-play units as well.

Fisher has two years left on his contract and carries a $4.2 million cap hit, but he only makes $4 million next season and $3 million in 2012-13, so it is a friendly deal for the budget-conscious Predators. If Lombardi is able to return next season, a position of weakness could become a strength for the next two seasons in Nashville.

It will also be interesting to see how the move affects Fisher. Not only does he move to a contender, but his wife, country music star Carrie Underwood, also lives in Nashville.

Ottawa has a roster high on talent and salary, but low on results this season. General manager Bryan Murray has told reporters he wanted to start remaking the roster, and this could be the first of many deals involving the Senators.

If this does signal a dismantling of the current Senators roster, the franchise does have a solid core of young defensemen to build with, led by All-Star Erik Karlsson and a group of prospects that includes David Rundblad, Jared Cowan and Patrick Wiercioch. There is also Robin Lehner as a potential franchise goaltender, so don't be surprised if Murray is looking for forwards with his two first-round picks this summer.

Getting a first-round pick and potentially another draft choice for Fisher is a pretty nice return. First-round picks have become much tougher to acquire in recent seasons -- this is only the second to be dealt near the trade deadline in the past three years. Fisher isn't a No. 1 center on most contenders, but he could fit that description for the Predators and general manager David Poile was willing to pay a big price to obtain him.
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