Preds stand pat, stay off draft stage for second year in a row…

2012 NHL Draft logo (revised)

“I will do everything I can to try and fill in one of those holes.”

That was Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile in May. At that time, he possessed eight picks in this weekend’s 2012 NHL Entry Draft but none coming in the first two rounds. Matter of fact, the Preds weren’t set to take a single player until #66 overall, the latest they’d ever pick in their 14 year history.

Since then, however, he’s acquired two second round picks in the Anders Lindback trade last week with the Tampa Bay Lightning. As a result, the only hole left to fill was a first round selection. And the league was hardly quiet on this night. Big names like Mike Ribeiro, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Jordan Staal were all moved.

Despite plenty of tradeable assets such as Colin Wilson, Jonathan Blum, Ryan Ellis, Matt Halischuk, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm (just to name a few), the Predators stood pat. They’ve now failed to take the stage two June’s in a row.

Last summer, in St. Paul, Minnesota, they didn’t have a first round draft choice either and that did not sit well with Poile.

“It’s not good because that’s our bread and butter so we don’t like that,” Poile told us on the draft floor last year. “Plus, our scouts do such a great job, you want to reward them with having as many picks as possible. It’s frustrating but we did the right thing.”

That “right thing” was Mike Fisher. He came to Nashville in a deal with the Ottawa Senators just a few months prior. Without the acquisition, the Predators organization believes they never would have made the playoffs, let alone advanced to the second round for the first time in their history. This year was no different.

Paul Gaustad and a fourth round selection from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline meant the Preds wouldn’t have a first round pick once again. While his name doesn’t exactly carry the same weight as Fisher’s, he filled a desperate need. Gaustad was considered a face-off specialist and a solid penalty killer, something that was missing from the lineup when they dealt Jerred Smithson to the Florida Panthers a week earlier. Gaustad came in and filled his role well, even becoming a leader in the locker room in his short time.

Don’t mistake a lack of action with a lack of effort. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero was seen visiting with Poile several times throughout the night. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported toward the end of the night that the Pens were trying to acquire Ryan Suter‘s negotiating rights. Not swinging a deal coincides with Poile’s remarks on Wednesday about being “very loyal” to the all-star defenseman.

Poile now has to wait until tomorrow. When the teams converge on the Consol Energy Center again, Nashville will have nine choices: two in the second round, one in the third, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in sixth.

Could he have a trade up his sleeve? We’ll see.

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