If we've learned one thing over the past 13 months, it is to keep an eye on Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, a cagey veteran who seems ready to dial up a blockbuster at a moment's notice.
From the Seth Jones-for-Ryan Johansen deal in January 2016 to the Shea Weber-P.K. Subban swap heard around the world in June, Poile has been making aggressive moves in an effort to get his team to the promised land -- the Stanley Cup finals -- for the first time in franchise history.
(All of which has triggered my Spidey senses when it comes to auctioning off Matt Duchene in Colorado, but more on that later.)
First, I caught up with Poile after the board of governors' meeting on Saturday in Los Angeles to gauge his frame of mind ahead of the March 1 trade deadline. His team began the post-All-Star break sitting in a playoff spot, four points clear of the danger zone. So, are the Predators going to be an aggressive buyer at the deadline?
"We've had our pro meetings and we're organized in terms of what we think we might need or want, and looked at certain teams that might be traders," Poile said. "But I don't know. Two weeks ago, I might have had a bit more of an aggressive answer, but in the last two weeks we've played a lot better and won some games. We seem to be jelling as a team more than we've had at any point in the season.''
Poile is wary of altering his team's chemistry. That's interesting because it's exactly what Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan alluded to last week when we chatted about his team's trade deadline approach. He expressed concern that any big move might alter the tremendous chemistry the Caps have going.
The difference between the two teams is that one sits comfortably perched atop the Eastern Conference while the other has just started to show signs of life and of being a contender after a first half filled with inconsistency.
All of this has given Poile pause. Yes, he loves making big trades, and the right move before March 1 might help his team. On the other hand, his team finally seems to have come together after 13 months of change.
"As we all know, chemistry is important," said Poile. "We've made lots of changes, high-end changes such as Jones-for Johansen and Weber-for-Subban, so we've had some chemistry changes on our team and I think we're just starting to play better.''
Poile's team's performance over the next three weeks will likely drive his trade-deadline decisions. The GM obviously would not comment on any trade speculation, but other sources have suggested that the Preds have already checked in with the Colorado Avalanche regarding Duchene and will probably monitor that situation moving forward.
The Preds just can't resist the big fish, right?
Now, let's inject some reality as well. A long list of teams have reportedly reached out to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic regarding Duchene. Second of all, do the Predators have the young, high-end defenseman the Avs would covet in return for Duchene? Third, it's not a certainty that Sakic will even move Duchene before March. Perhaps he will decide instead that the blockbuster month of June is a better time to ramp up the auction on the 26-year-old center.
There's still plenty to play out on that front, but don't be surprised if Poile doesn't give it a try.