The season is over and the playoffs are upon us. It’s been a long season filled with ups and downs, and the fans know it better than anyone. Optimism and pessimism have reigned supreme, and with good reason. But now that the Nashville Predators have won their last three games against teams that failed to even sniff the playoffs, what’s there to worry about?
Now that the regular season is over and we have the best sample size possible, let’s look back. This year’s trade deadline brought in some serious talent to Nashville, but how have they performed? A lot of people have different opinion, but let’s see what the numbers have to say.
All stats below will be at five on five, except for when explicitly stated otherwise.
He’s big, he’s mean, and he’s a penalty killing machine. Brian Boyle has scored four goals in 26 games at five on five while adding another on the powerplay.
All in all, Boyle had a fairly impressive 26 games from an individual standpoint. The center had 34 shots on 51 attempts, 43 scoring chances, and 14 high danger chances. For a fourth line center, those are pretty good numbers. It also doesn’t help that Laviolette starts him in the offensive zone 32.89% of the time.
Boyle’s on ice stats aren’t as pretty as his individual numbers, but that’s to be expected. His quality of teammate was among the lowest on the Predators, and it shows. A 48.48% Corsi, 49.34% shot share, and 44.44% high danger chance share are among the worst on the team. It also doesn’t help that he scored four of the six total goals scored by the Predators when he was on the ice.
Low event hockey has been the name of the game for Nashville this season and Boyle has exemplified that. You can decide whether that’s a good thing or not.
A lot of his strength comes from the middle of the ice. Boyle moves well for someone so big, my biggest issue with him is how he uses that physicality. He does a good job of boxing out players in the defensive zone, but he struggles to get create time or space in the offensive zone.
It’s was genuinely strange for me to see Boyle finished with 18 goals in all situations, but it made more sense when I saw he was shooting at 11.9%. Evolving-Hockey’s expected goals formula also had him closer to 15 goals, which made sense.
Boyle has been a bit lucky so far, but his shooting talent (or lack there of) and his quality of linemates make me think he outperformed expectations for the Predators. His defensive game has been good, but you’d expect more from someone who cost a second round pick.
I’ll give this trade a “B-” because it was an overpayment, but a decent pickup.
This was a bad trade from the get-go. It felt like the Predators were trading a good five on five player for a good powerplay player. Instead of getting that shot in the arm the powerplay needed, nothing really changed. The Predators still rank 29th most for scoring chances per 60 and 30th in high danger chances per 60 since Simmonds was acquired. Who knew the issue wasn’t talent?
Ok, enough snark. Simmonds was a rough pick up and has since been relegated to the fourth line after being given every opportunity on each line. He currently has one goal and three points in 17 games with zero points on the powerplay. Yes, you read that correctly. The alleged powerplay savant hasn’t registered a single point on the powerplay despite playing just under two minutes a night.
Simmonds has 16 shots on 27 attempts, 13 scoring chances, and seven high danger chances at five on five. All the while he’s had a 46.15% Corsi, 50.30% shot share, and a 44.44% high danger chance share. You might be thinking these are some pretty bad numbers, but let’s remember that he started in the offensive zone only 59.72% of the time. Oh wait, that’s the opposite of how it should be…
This isn’t really a tricky trade to break down. Simmonds hasn’t been good this season and it hasn’t exactly been a secret. I’m not sure if this is helpful or not, but it’s interesting to see that Hartman has double the points and high danger chances created at five on five. He’s done this despite receiving tougher competition and tougher zone starts than Simmonds did.
Simmonds is just not an NHL skater anymore. His playing style and hip surgeries have not helped him as the years have gone on. Power forwards have a very set expiration date, and I’m worried Simmonds’ has already past.
I’m not sure if you should bench the poor guy. I flip flop every day on it. Simmonds brings a good net front presence, but that’s all he does. It’s no longer 1998 where players can just have one job, Simmonds is not Tomas Holmstrom. I really like Simmonds for what he did earlier in his career, but giving him substantial or meaningful minutes would be a mistake.
Say what you will about Hartman, at least he could move around the ice. This trade screams “D-” with the potential to transform into an “F”.
This is a weird one. I’ve really liked Mikael Granlund, but I’m not sure I’ve liked him more than Kevin Fiala. It also doesn’t help that Granlund was playing with terrible quality of linemates until very recently when he was moved alongside Kyle Turris and Craig Smith. The trio has been good so far, but it begs the question, why this wasn’t done sooner. It seemed like the obvious match, but what do I know.
Granlund’s been a bit cursed, he only has one assist at five on five but does have five points in all situations. The winger has 25 shots on 41 attempts, 24 scoring chances, and 15 high danger chances. That’s close to one per game!
Otherwise Granlund has a 47.86% Corsi, 51.72 shot share, and a 50.65% high danger chance share. He’s had an easy go at it though by starting in the offensive zone 53.72% of the time and saw mostly third line competition. But to be fair, he was playing with third line quality linemates so it makes sense. It would also explain why the Predators are shooting at 5% while he’s on the ice.
I’ve struggled with Granlund at times. He’s had some dominant shifts in the offensive zone where his passing acumen is on full display. His ability to take the play from the corners to the slot is second on the team only to Ryan Johansen. Then there are times where he aimlessly floats between all three zones and looks on passively.
The points haven’t come yet, but I think that drought is only temporary. Then again, that’s what I said about Kevin Fiala and everyone was ready to run him out of town after five months.
The Predators lost a transition monster when they traded away Fiala, but they got back a player who’s in his prime and a bit stronger on the puck. I think Granlund will explode in the playoffs if he keeps passing to the slot, rather than passing to the defense for a point shot.
This trade has a few moving parts and I don’t feel comfortable giving it a solid grade yet. I think a “C” suffices, just because the results so far have been average.
All In All
The Predators went all in at the deadline, and so far, they kind of lost. I think the Granlund trade was decent, but the Simmonds trade was straight up bad while the Boyle trade was fine but very expensive .
I haven’t tracked enough of their zone exit/entry numbers but from my eye test and preliminary numbers, things haven’t looked great. I hope these three are ready to achieve new heights in the playoffs, because most of their current numbers won’t cut it.
My colleague, Michael Wade, had a great twitter rant about line optimization a while back, and I think it holds merit. The first two lines would stay together, but then bottom six should receive a bit of a shake up.
A third line of Colton Sissons, Brian Boyle, and Austin Watson would be a decent mix of speed and size without sacrificing too much skill. This line wouldn’t need any zone sheltering, but would need to face other team’s third lines if you wanted them to produce offense. The fourth line would then be Calle Jarnkrok, Nick Bonino, and a mix of Wayne Simmonds or Rocco Grimaldi. Grimaldi would be a good addition if you needed speed, while Simmonds would do well if you were facing a slower, more methodical team.
All in all, I like that David Poile was gutsy enough to make these trades, but I’m not necessarily sure if they were the right ones. The regular season has just given us a glimpse, but the playoffs will add to our sample size. I’m excited to see how all three of these players are used.