David Poile was already looking at making major changes to the Nashville Predators’ roster this offseason. But it sounds like at least one free agent has already started packing his bags.

According to a report from Adam Vingan of The Athletic, Mikael Granlund’s agent Todd Diamond says that his client will not negotiate a contract with the Predators before free agency hits.

“We will be seeing what the open market has to offer,” Diamond told The Athletic, indicating that Granlund is already on his way out the door.

These situations can be fluid, but that certainly sounds like someone who is already planning their next destination.

It’s possible Granlund’s exit might have been necessitated already, simply based on math. Poile must do some tough arithmetic to fix his roster next season, which may have already include not re-signing guys like Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith.

But for Poile, if Granlund leaves in free agency, it’s going to hurt a little more than usual.

Granlund’s Preds exit will be tough

Losing Granlund for nothing this offseason is going to sting, considering the Nashville Predators gave up a cost-controlled Kevin Fiala and considering that Fiala is now thriving in Minnesota. Fiala’s 54 points led the Wild last year, and he was frequently their most dangerous and effective play driver down the stretch into the playoffs. Granlund was disappointing for most of his run in Nashville and now looks primed to leave town.

Giving up a potential elite player in Fiala for essentially nothing? Yeah that’s going to hurt.

Don’t forget how the Washington Capitals must feel watching Filip Forsberg mold into a superstar, even if they won a Stanley Cup in 2018 without him.

David Poile has made his mark by executing some very team friendly trades for Nashville over the years. He’s built his rosters primarily through the draft and via trade, very rarely resorting to free agency, where bad contracts happen.

If Granlund does leave, and it looks like he will, the Granlund for Fiala trade is officially his worst in recent memory, and maybe his worst ever.

(Note: if you still think the P.K. Subban trade to New Jersey is the worst, you need to go revisit the details and circumstance around that trade, especially the part where he was owed $36 million more over four years and was not even close to the same player anymore.)

How does Poile recover from this?

Some have already started calling for David Poile’s head following yet another disappointing finish for the Nashville Predators. No doubt, those people will call even louder if Granlund walks.

But this isn’t the end of the world and the Preds are salvagable. They still boast a solid core of players on long term contracts, all of which they can build around with the right role players.

Poile will have around $9 million in cap room to work with this offseason. That’s plenty if all he’s looking for are role players. He’s also indicated a move towards youth next year, with guys like Eeli Tolvanen, Philip Tomasino, Rem Pitlick, Jeremy Davies, and Frederic Allard all likely getting legitimate shots at the roster.

Maximizing on cost controlled young forwards while you can is a great way to succeed in the NHL. You know, like they should have done with Kevin Fiala.

Can Poile recover from this with another trade to acquire some youth? Not likely. He longer has proper leverage and his main trade pieces (i.e., Kyle Turris) have high cap hits.

Can Poile recover from this with an effective draft? Maybe, but that takes time. Certainly the early returns on the 2019 Draft are very promising with Tomasino and Igor Afanasayev. You can expect good things from those two, but it may be a couple years.

In my eyes, the only way to recover is via shrewd investment in the right low-cost free agents this offseason. Find the right pieces at the right price that can fill in the gaps around your stars. Get a young forward with some speed to play with Matt Duchene. Get a physical forward not named Austin Watson to play on your bottom six. See what you have in Allard and Davies on the blueline, but find valuable veteran replacement as insurance.

Poile needs to put the Nashville Predators in good financial position to maximize the salaries he already has on the books. That way he can avoid another desperate move at the trade deadline and avoid another “Granlund for Fiala” situation.

— Featured image via Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports —