The Nashville Predators made two more big moves yesterday, prior to the trade deadline. In two separate deals with the Buffalo Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville acquired Paul Gaustad and Andrei Kostitsyn. The Predators front office has now made three big trades in a ten-day span, thus, showing the league they are serious about contending for a Stanley Cup in the near future.
After trading center Jerred Smithson to the Florida Panthers for a draft pick on Saturday, Nashville evidently felt they needed an upgrade in the face off dot. Nashville sent Buffalo a first round pick in this year’s draft in return for Gaustad and a fourth round pick in the draft. Although the asking price was steep, Gaustad, at 6′ 5” and 220 pounds, is a much needed upgrade in forward size for Nashville. He may not have the best offensive numbers, just seven goals and ten assists on the season, but the thirty year-old center is one of the league’s top ten face off men. The trade seems extremely nearsighted now, as a first round pick for a bottom six forward is usually considered a steal, but Gaustad seems to be the perfect fit for an already impressive Nashville roster.
David Piole, Nashville’s General Manager, also acquired winger Andrei Kostitsyn from the Montreal Canadiens before Monday’s deadline. Kostitsyn, who has twelve goals and twelve assists on the season, was traded to Nashville for a second and fifth round pick in the 2013 entry draft. The twenty-seven year-old winger had been on the trading block for over two weeks and Poile felt he could not pass up the valuable scoring that Andrei offered. Kostitsyn will be reunited with two familiar faces upon arriving in Nashville. Hal Gill, his former teammate in Montreal, was traded to Nashville on February 17th and his younger brother, who also skated for the Canadiens, Sergei, is in his second season with the Predators.
If Poile didn’t feel comfortable with his team before monday, although hard to imagine with the Predators sitting at fifth in the Conference standings, he certainly does now. It is now evident that Nashville brass will not be satisfied with a first or second round playoff exit, as the addition of Gaustad and Kostitsyn to an already talented roster reaffirms the Predators as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.