If the season were to end today, the Nashville Predators would, for a second straight season, find themselves in the playoffs as the eighth seed out of the Western Conference. Last season, the team was rewarded for its efforts with a 4-0 sweep in the first round at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche. This season, should they make the playoffs, they’ll now have a new weapon: a veteran shutdown defenseman with Stanley Cup pedigree in that of defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who they acquired this offseason from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Though Nashville has had their struggles thus far, McDonagh has been the steady, reliable presence they’d hoped for, helping to keep them in the hunt early on.
However, as The Athletic’s Joe Smith details, there was a time when McDonagh was nearly on his way to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason. According to Smith’s discussions with McDonagh and agent Ben Hankinson, a deal to Columbus was rather close. But, on the morning of July 3rd, things began to change. As Smith writes, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois had set that day as a deadline to find a trade partner for McDonagh, who carried a no-movement clause on his contract. If they could not, Smith added, there was a chance McDonagh could have been placed on waivers. Instead, the story goes, Nashville and GM David Poile jumped into the mix that day and made the push to acquire McDonagh. Ultimately, it was the Predators who checked more boxes than any other interested team, McDonagh said.
- After Ilya Samsonov suffered a knee injury in a game against the Boston Bruins two weeks ago, many wondered how the Toronto Maple Leafs would resolve their issues in net, down both of their regular netminders. Toronto managed to bide their time, relying on Erik Kallgren, until Murray’s return this Tuesday, however they will need that pair to stay healthy for now, as Samsonov does not appear close to return. According to TSN’s Mark Masters, who spoke with Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, Samsonov did not skate Friday. As Keefe says, Samsonov is still healing and not yet at the point to push himself every day and make the push to return. Fortunately for Toronto, the comments don’t appear to point to any setback in Samsonov’s recovery, even if his return is not clear.
- NHL.com’s Chris Pinkert reports that St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will not play tonight due to illness. It doesn’t appear that the illness is in any way COVID related. Skating in his place will be Alexey Toropchenko, who will play alongside Pavel Buchnevich and Robert Thomas. The 23-year-old Toropchenko has just one goal in 11 games this season, but a chance to skate in the Blues’ top-six could reignite the winger.
I’m not sure what standings you’re looking at, but the Preds currently are in 10th place in the West. And if they don’t figure out how to score on their PP soon, the playoffs will be out of reach.