Thursday, February 10, 2011

My take (gasp, no recap?) on the Mike Fisher trade...

It's time to set foot outside the comfort zone that is writing game recaps, and actually state my opinion on a hockey news story or issue. I guess after today's events, today is a good day to start. Here we go...

When it was announced in December 2009 that Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood were engaged, I think it's safe to say that a good majority of Preds fans either jokingly or seriously wondered if Mike Fisher would end up in Nashville at some point. It crossed my mind for all of two minutes, until I looked up his salary cap numbers, laughed, and put the thought in the far reaches of my mind, thinking it would never happen.

Fast forward almost 14 months.

I woke up from a one hour nap -- one freakin hour -- to find Twitter in a frenzy. David Poile had, in fact, traded for Mike Fisher, giving up Nashville's 2011 1st-round selection, as well as a conditional 2012 selection, depending on how the Preds do in the playoffs. At first, I didn't now what to think. Poile had made it clear less than a week ago that he wanted to obtain the services of a top-6 forward, but this one caught me of guard for two reasons: 1) there's still 18 days until the trade deadline, and 2) this isn't like the Forsberg deal where he was brought in as a rental; Fisher has two more years on his contract after this season. There won't be any of this "Will he stick around after this season" talk; he's here long-term.

With every trade, there are pros and cons. Every blogger or fan has different views as to what is a pro and what is a con, and I'm no different. I'm a pretty optimistic person, so don't be surprised if there are more pros than cons. So, without further ado, here they are...

Pros

  • Timing - as surprising as today's trade was, only giving up two draft picks for a player of Fisher's stature is a bargain. If Poile had approached Ottawa GM Bryan Murray on the day of the trade deadline, something tells me a key prospect would've been tossed into the deal as well, potentially Jonathan Blum. Once again, Poile proves he is a genius.
  • Experience - Mike Fisher replaces Jason Arnott (albiet a little late) as the only Predator to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. JP Dumont got to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2005-2006 season while he was with Buffalo, but outside of that, the players who have playoff experience beyond the first round is extremely sparse. If Nashville is to make it past the first round in the season, having a voice who has been there in the past outside of JP will be crucial in making that happen.
  • Fits the system - Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck had a breakdown of the trade, and the assets in Fisher's scouting report caught my eye:
"Is great on the forecheck and can kill penalties with aplomb. Owns good speed and is extremely tenacious. Has excellent two-way ability. Also possesses a great shot."
Yep. To me, he sounds like the type of player who will fit into Barry Trotz's style of play like a glove.

  • Off the ice contributions - Taking a glance at his website (yes, he has a website), Fisher appeared to be very active in the Ottawa community. I wouldn't expect that to change one bit as he transitions to Nashville.
  • Wants to be here - In his interview on Sens TV, Mike Fisher seemed pretty disappointed to be leaving Ottawa, and understandably so, as it had been the only team he had played for up to this point in his career. The sports industry can be cruel and mean at times, and today was no different, as all signs point to Ottawa beginning a potentially lengthy rebuilding phase. Bryan Murray was gracious enough to at least trade Fisher to a team where he would enjoy playing, so that has to take some of the sting out.
  • Carrie Underwood - I mean, if the Preds can market Taylor Swift, you gotta think they're gonna market the heck out of Carrie. 

Cons
  • Another log-jam - adding Fisher now means Colin Wilson, David Legwand, Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling, Marcel Goc, and when healthy, Cal O'Reilly and the almost forgotten Matthew Lombardi. Even with two injured centers, that's six centers trying to fill four spots. I know Trotz has juggled lines all season long, but now he has to find out who exactly the four centers are going to be, followed by finding linemates for those centers.
  • Two-way center: no, there's nothing wrong with a two-way center. But Poile said he wanted a top-6 forward, and top-6 forwards need to be able to find the scoresheet more often than your third and fourth line players. Fisher set a career high in goals last year with 25; he's at 14 this season with 27 games left, so if he can get set up with the right linemates, perhaps he will surpass his career high again. 25 goals isn't out of the question. 30? Unless Fisher has a Johan Franzen kind of game and puts a five-spot on the board, it may be a slight stretch.
  • Injury history - Fisher has a decent injury history, mostly being knee injuries. Fisher has managed to stay healthy as of late, however, only missing ten games over the past three seasons. He is 30, and one awkward knee tweak could prove devastating to the Predators hopes at making a deep playoff run (*knock on wood*)
If I were to give this trade a grade, I'd give Poile a solid B. He didn't quite solve our issues on offense, but if Fisher comes in and starts tearing games up, it'll be well worth giving up two draft picks.

So there you have it; my first opinion-based post. A little feedback/criticism would be greatly appreciated. I know it's far from perfect, and I'm bound to have screwed up somewhere in this lengthy post. I can't wait to see how this trade pans out, and heck, there's still 18 days until the deadline. We're just getting started...


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