Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SOB! Predators Add Gritty Defenseman

The Nashville Predators moved former first round draft pick Ryan Parent (again!) and second round pick Jonas Andersson to the Vancouver Canucks for Shane O'Brien and prospect Dan Gendur. The initial reaction from the Nashville fan base was an overwhelming...


followed by some questioning of General Manager David Poile's sanity. Some fans worried that all those years of operating on a shoestring budget to cobble together a team had finally made one of the best minds in hockey snap.

Once the dust had settled on this trade, however, it looks as if the mind of David Poile has not snapped, but is just as crafty as ever.

The Predators essentially swapped even on salary for O'Brien; the combined salaries of Parent and Andersson ($1,575,000) are replaced by O'Briens ($1,600,000).

In Parent, the Predators gave up a defenseman that was not at all physical and didn't want the puck in pressure situations. This is not to say that he wasn't a good person or teammate. Coaches have told me he was.

The coaching staff expects the race in the Central Division this year to be a war, and Ryan Parent was not a player with whom they wanted to go to war.

Jonas Andersson is a physically gifted player that just could not elevate his game to the NHL level. Frankly, Andersson had no chance of being full time on the Nashville roster, and with a one way contract for $675,000 became a costly and unproductive asset for the team.

So what do the Predators get in Shane O'Brien?

No doubt they get a gritty player that plays with an edge.

Sometimes, over the edge.

O'Brien has logged over 150 PIM's in three of his four NHL seasons. His ten major penalties were second most among defensemen in the 2008-09 season. Obviously, a player that pushes the limits.

Pushes the limits hard.

They also get a player that has had more than a few runs ins with his previous coach. O'Brien is a player that has had a few off ice incidents. Partying hard at the Roxy, a local Vancouver night club and sleeping in the next day and missing practice put him in the dog house in Vancouver. O'Brien has been known to frequent the Roxy and be quite the party animal.

Part of this is maturity, or the lack thereof on his part. Part of this is a sour relationship with his former coach, Alain Vigneault.

On the other hand, they get a defenseman that will stand up for team mates, one that is not afraid to drop the gloves when necessary. He has also shown the ability to be a responsible defenseman as evidenced by his career +/- of +15.

O'Brien also brings playoff experience, having been in the playoffs and logging quality time in three of the last four seasons.

While not a prolific scorer, he has recorded double digits in points in three of four seasons in the League.

Predators management felt that bringing in a tough, physical defenseman that has playoff experience was a plus for the team. A player that knows how to win and has experience.

So do I.

It will be incumbent on the coaching staff to get control of O'Brien early on in Nashville. Mold him into the type of player that can be an asset to the team. The raw tools and talent are there.

The Central Division- and the Western Conference- will be a war again this year with numerous teams fighting for playoff positioning. When you go to war, you want guys beside you that have experience. Guys that will not back down. Guys that will stand up and be counted.

The Predators have added a SOB that will do just that.

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