Turris Jump-Starts The Predators
by Josh Brewster, Buffalo Sports Page NHL Expert
The Matt Duchene three-way deal has paid a dividend for the Nashville Predators, who gave up a couple of key prospects but have to be happy with the relatively low price paid to be involved in the transaction.
Center Kyle Turris (19GP: 5-10-15PTS) has two goals and four assists for six points in eight contests since his arrival in Nashville. Most importantly, he’s helped re-boot the careers of LW Kevin Fiala and RW Craig Smith.
Smith has four goals and three assists since Turris’ arrival. Fiala is 2-5-7 during the same span.
“Turris has helped Fiala settle down his game a bit, and in combination with Craig Smith, this is probably the best second line this team has ever had,” Pete Weber, radio voice of the Nashville Predators, told Buffalo Sports Page.
Fiala (22GP: 2-12-14), drafted eleventh overall in 2011, broke his femur in Game One of Round 2 last spring against the St. Louis Blues on April 26. Fiala’s exit, coupled with that of top center Ryan Johansen, was a big loss to the Preds en route to the club’s first Cup Final.
A native of Switzerland, Fiala played junior in his home country, then in Sweden before playing turning pro with HV-71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League. His recovery was much shorter than anyone expected, and by late June after the Preds fell in the Cup Final, Fiala was posting photos of his return to on-ice workouts on social media.
Smith (23GP: 8-4-12) was in GM David Poile’s dog house in 2016-17, scoring only 12 goals after three consecutive 20-plus seasons. This season has been a complete rebound.
The Predators are 6-1-1 since the deal.
A Steal of a Deal?
“The Predators were not anxious to trade D Samuel Girard or LW Vladislav Kamenev (each a Preds’ 2nd round pick), but as St. Louis Blues Hall-of-Famer Bobby Plager told me Friday night, this could turn out to be ‘the best trade since the Islanders got Butch Goring,’” said Weber of Turris’ arrival.
The prospects were good ones, but to secure a second-line center the caliber of Turris, it’s a small price to pay.
After acquiring Duchene, the Senators journeyed to Sweden, where they won both matchups against the Avalanche. Since their return from Europe, they’ve lost six straight and picked up just a single point. Duchene hasn’t earned his paycheck, contributing just a single point and going minus-ten.
NEWS AND NOTES
Despite a loss to the Florida Panthers Monday night, the Devils have kept on truckin’ despite the losses of LW Marcus Johansson (concussion) and RW Kyle Palmieri (broken right foot). New Jersey is 14-6-4 on the season, and Taylor Hall (8-18-26) has fueled the Devils through the adversity. Last season, he was upstaged by D Adam Larsson, for whom he was traded from Edmonton. Hall has three goals and six assists in his last eight games.
The road has been a bit bumpy for the Chicago Blackhawks (12-8-3=27PTS), but credit GM Stan Bowman for retooling his club. The Blackhawks got a hat trick from rookie RW Alex DeBrincat Monday night against the Ducks, bringing his season total to ten goals and eight assists. DeBrincat scored a whopping 167 goals in 171 games with Erie of the OHL over the past three seasons. Linemate LW Ryan Hartman (4-8-12) has been solid, and elsewhere, Pat Kane’s new linemate Nick Schmaltz (4-10-14) has chipped in. 27-year-old rookie D-man Jan Rutta (3-8-11) has provided depth as a free agent signee in the wake of Nik Hjalmarsson’s exit to Arizona.
Colorado’s Gabe Landeskog was suspended four games for his cross-check to the face of Calgary’s Matt Tkachuk. We’d have liked to see that doubled.
Who do the Sabres get in return for Evander Kane, and is it worth waiting until the trade deadline, or should GM Jason Botterill bust a move now? Oh, and when does Kyle Okposo hit the hot seat for producing just three goals in return for his $6M salary, which runs for six seasons including the current campaign?
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is certain to be shipped out of the dumpster fire that is the Arizona—ahem—Seattle—ahem—Quebec—ahem—Houston Coyotes. He’s seen it all in his eight seasons in the desert. He has one more year after this one at a cap hit of $5.5M, but would yield a tremendous return, and one of the Coyotes’ only strengths is its defensive corps.