The Nashville Predators made a couple of deals on Thursday in getting Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils and Cody McLeod from the New York Rangers. Both forwards are veterans and will help with rounding out depth in the group. The pair are also tough and add grit to a team that is tied for 12th in goals scored per game.
Adding toughness is nothing new for general manager David Poile as he traded for McLeod and signed Scott Hartnell as a free agent last season. Nashville signed Zac Rinaldo as a free agent last off-season after Hartnell retired.
Injuries Forced Predators Hand
A pair of injuries forced Poile to make a deal to shore up his team’s depth. The first blow to Nashville’s bottom-six forwards was when Austin Watson was suspended indefinitely. Watson has been dealing with personal demons and may not return for a long time.
The second shot to the Predators was when Rinaldo was ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury. Rinaldo didn’t play much this season but was always there if the team needed to add a little bit of meanness to the lineup. The seven-year veteran had played under Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette when both were with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Losing both forwards meant Poile needed to make a couple of deals in order to shore up his squad.
What Brian Boyle Brings
The 34-year-old centre is known as a battler on and off the ice. He was a fan favourite during his time with the Los Angeles Kings, Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Devils. He’s always willing to mix it up with anyone and play hard.
Boyle won the biggest battle of his life by beating leukemia after being diagnosed with the disease in Nov. 2017. He won the Masterton Trophy last season and netted a hat trick on Nov. 5, which was Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
The Hingham, Mass. native has 13 goals this season with six of them coming on the power play. Nashville has struggled mightily with the extra skater as it’s at the bottom of the league with a 12.8-percent success rate. Boyle’s willingness to get in the dirty areas could prove to be an asset for the Predators.
Welcome Back, Cody McLeod
This is the 34-year-old’s second tour of duty in “Smashville” and was immediately beloved after fighting Jarome Iginla after being acquired by the Colorado Avalanche. McLeod was always willing to throw the body or drop the gloves to spark his team.
The Rangers picked up the Binscarth, Manitoba native after the Predators put him on waivers. Poile said he regretted parting ways with McLeod and was willing to bring him back for a seventh-round pick in 2020.
McLeod will be there to throw his weight around and to fight if needed. He may need might provide the flash that other Predators players have, but he’ll be needed in the post-season.
What It Means for the Future
The Predators don’t want to be pushed around and are revving up for a likely series against the Winnipeg Jets. That series was a bitter seven-game fight and Nashville is preparing for another showdown.
Adding Boyle and McLeod probably won’t be the final moves that Poile makes before the deadline. However, Nashville got better making these two trades.
PHILADELPHIA, PA. – New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle during an Oct. 24 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo credit: Kate Frese/Last Word on Hockey)