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The Top 10 Trades in Preds History

by Willy Daunic / Nashville Predators

With the Seth Jones-for-Ryan Johansen trade not yet a week old, both the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets are still getting their new additions acclimated to their surroundings. Each team lost their first two contests after the trade. But judging by the reaction of Predators fans and from experts around the League, this trade easily has a chance to become among the most noteworthy deals in franchise history.

How do you judge the impact of a trade? Clearly, the caliber of the players involved and the buzz it creates are part of it. Jones and Johansen were both widely-known figures (fourth overall picks in their respective drafts); plus, in the salary cap age, it's rare to see two players in their early 20s being swapped in a pure "hockey trade." Not to mention that any type of trade in the NHL had been a rarity up until a few went down last Wednesday.

There has been a ton of speculation on who "won" the trade between the Preds and Jackets, but only time will tell. The true significance cannot be judged until years later. Still, I'd be surprised if this one doesn't land in the Top Five eventually.

This week, I was processing the history of Predators trades with the Voice of the Preds, Pete Weber. He and I can truly call ourselves team historians, having been a part of the broadcasts since the first season of 1998-99. Monday morning, our Predators Graphics Coordinator Jacob Underwood put a list together that jogged our memories and caused us to debate what we thought were the 10 most significant trades in Nashville history (in our opinion of course; we’d love to hear how yours may differ). Let the countdown begin…

10. Oct. 31, 1998 - Acquired forward Cliff Ronning and defenseman Richard Lintner from Phoenix (Arizona) for future considerations.

The Coyotes were clearing the way for a young Daniel Briere, and the Predators got an established, exciting, marketable player the team desperately needed, as they exposed the market to the game for the first time. Ronning became one of the most popular players on the very first Preds teams.

9. Jan. 29, 2006 - Acquired forward Mike Sillinger from St. Louis for forward Timofei Shishkanov.

For the first time in franchise history, the Predators were making a deal as an established contender for a division title. Sillinger was a solid veteran that fit in nicely and gave the team a lift, putting up 22 points in 31 games. Nashville went on to post their first 100-plus point season (106).

8. June 21, 2008 - Predators swapped second-round picks and gave up a third rounder to Phoenix in order to move up in the second round of the 2008 Draft. With the selection, Nashville selected defenseman Roman Josi.

Trades involving future draft picks are one thing, but in this case, the Preds traded up because they wanted Josi specifically. They didn't think he would fall to them at pick 46, so they moved up to No. 38. The rest is history.

7. June 27, 1998 - Acquired defensemen Jan Vopat and Kimmo Timonen from Los Angeles for future considerations.

Similar to another deal you’ll see higher on this list, the Preds sent future considerations to the Kings in the form of agreeing to not select a player from Los Angeles in the 1998 Expansion Draft. In exchange for not taking d-man Gary Galley off the Kings roster, the Preds got another extremely valuable blueliner in return.

Regardless, the Predators got a future captain and one of the classiest players in team history in Timonen for basically nothing.

6. February 10, 2011 - Acquired forward Mike Fisher from Ottawa for a first-round pick in 2011 and a third-round pick in 2012.

The relatively new ownership group showed a big financial commitment to make this trade (a sign that the franchise was coming out of the "are we getting 14,000 paid per game?" era). Fisher has been exactly what the team hoped for and more.

5. June 26, 1998 - Acquired forward Sebastien Bordeleau from Montreal for future considerations.

What were the considerations? The Canadiens had a number of goalies in their system who were unprotected in the Expansion Draft. Montreal basically said: We'll give you Bordeleau (who ended up being a solid player for early Preds teams) if you will select the goalie we are most willing to give up. Who was that? A guy named Tomas Vokoun.

4. December 12, 2002 - Acquired forward Rem Murray and defensemen Tomas Kloucek and Marek Zidlicky for goaltender Mike Dunham.

The Predators were ready to give the reins to Vokoun as the starter (a sound decision as history has shown). Not only did this trade accomplish that, but Nashville got a solid return for Dunham. Murray was a steady veteran, and Zidlicky (an unknown playing overseas at the time) turned into a weapon from the blue line that helped the Predators advance to the playoffs for the first time in 2004. He was also an integral part of the next two teams which posted 100-plus point seasons.

3. April 3, 2013 - Acquired forward Filip Forsberg for forwards Martin Erat and Michael Latta.

Forsberg has changed the fortunes of the franchise with his play on the ice for sure, and at age 21, looks like he will be a difference maker for a long time. This trade was definitely a steal (Erat has had virtually no impact since the deal and is no longer playing in the NHL), but there is yet another benefit. During the stretch run of 2013, trading Erat put the Predators in full rebuilding mode. They sunk toward the bottom of the standings and ended up with the fourth-overall pick in the draft. They selected Seth Jones with that pick. So in a way, the Erat trade yielded Forsberg and (indirectly) Ryan Johansen.

2. February 15, 2007 - Acquired forward Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia for forward Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent and a first-round pick.

This trade by far created more "buzz" throughout the NHL than any other Predators trade (including Jones for Johansen). Though Peter Forsberg was in the twilight of an incredible Hall of Fame career, he was easily the most sought after player on the market that season. The pundits were shocked that the Predators were able to pull it off, out dueling several other suitors. It was the ultimate "go for it" type of trade.

1. February 16, 2004 - Acquired forward Steve Sullivan from Chicago for two second-round draft picks (2004 and 2005).

Why is this ahead of the two Forsberg trades? Several reasons:

  • The Predators had never been "buyers" at the trade deadline before. It was the mark of a team that was ready to graduate out of the expansion era.
  • Sullivan was very productive (even scored a hat trick in his first game) and led the Predators to their first postseason appearance. They would not have made it without him.
  • Had the Predators not made the playoffs that year (2004) and had a magical taste of what NHL playoff hockey was like, could they have survived the ensuing season-long lockout?
  • Had the Predators not made the playoffs that year, would Paul Kariya have been interested in becoming a Predator coming out of the lockout? No way.
  • If the Predators had not gotten Kariya, they most certainly would not have become a magnet for other good free agents (Jason Arnott, J-P Dumont), who suddenly became interested in Nashville.
  • Peter Forsberg would never have been interested in being traded to the Predators had they not picked up Kariya (Forsberg had a say in where he would go). He wanted to win a Cup, and he wanted to play with Kariya.

So Sullivan not only shined on the ice, but his work had a domino effect. It bridged the franchise from its expansion era to becoming a respected contender. Who knows what would've happened otherwise?

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