One of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season has to be the slow start for the Nashville Predators. The Preds, a perennial playoff team for nearly a decade now, are currently 7th place in the Central Division and look like a team with a LOT of flaws. There are rumblings that head coach John Hynes could be out already after coming aboard last season and that major players like Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene and Erik Haula could be traded.
In his latest 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs might be interested in Granlund after initially trying to sign him this past offseason as a free agent.
From Friedman's column:
The math isn’t good for Nashville, seventh in the Central. We’ll see how the Predators attack this — do they push to try to get back into the race or begin to sell? Relatively inexpensive pieces contending teams would like: there was plenty of off-season interest in Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula, both of whom are on one-year deals. There would be traction on Nick Cousins, signed for two seasons. If it doesn’t turn around, eventually we get into greater philosophical discussions about a rebuild. Nashville has made Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen (injured now) available in the past, but league-wide money is tight.
Granlund is the forward I guessed Toronto would consider. They contacted him about his interest during the off-season, but the money didn’t work. I still believe the Maple Leafs will look for a top-six winger, We will see where it goes.
Makes total sense if you think about it. The 28 year old Granlund is on a one year, $3.75 million contract and has been one of the few Preds forwards this season to play with consistency. He has three goals and seven points in 12 games this season after a relatively disappointing 17 goal and 30 point campaign in 2019-20. His career high came in 2016-17 with the Minnesota Wild when he potted 26 goals and 69 points in 81 games. The cost of acquisition would likely be low for the Leafs and if he doesn't work out... well he's a pending free agent. Worth a shot?
Source: Elliotte Friedman · Photo Credit: Zuma Press