Friday, February 11, 2011

Fisher: Price is Right; Predators Deal for Rugged Forward

The Nashville Predators made a major move by acquiring Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators for a 2012 first round draft pick and a conditional draft pick. Fisher is expected to join the Predators once visa paperwork is completed and be available for their game Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The conditional pick is a third round pick if the Predators advance past the first round of the upcoming playoffs. Should the Predators advance past the second round, the pick becomes a second round draft choice for the Senators.

Predators General Manager David Poile is not known for trading away draft picks; in fact, the opposite is true, as Poile tends to cherish and hoard draft picks. This move makes sense for the Predators in two respects: the upcoming draft is a draft that is not a highly rated draft; and the Predators acquired a proven top six forward that has more playoff experience than any player on the current roster. Fisher has 75 games of playoff experience in his career.

Now that the dust has settled, let's take a look at what this trade means for the Predators.

Adding Fisher to the lineup gives the coaching staff more flexibility with their lines. Talking to Coach Barry Trotz, that was one of the first things he mentioned about this trade. The depth that Fisher provides will give the coaching staff the ability to better match lines as well as giving them more depth. Look for the third line- projected to be Colin Wilson and J.P. Dumont centered by David Legwand- to benefit, as they will draw defensive matchups that are more favorable. Fisher is projected to center Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan, a line that has very good offensive potential.

Fisher gives the Predators a solid two way presence. He is responsible defensively and has logged minutes on the PK for the Senators. I would expect to see him with some time on the second PP unit as well. The quality defensive presence is a requirement to play in Trotz's system, and Fisher should plug in nicely as a responsible two way player.

Fisher is a balls to the wall type of player. The Predators will get everything out of him on every shift. Having watched him play through the years, this is one aspect of his game that is very impressive. Fisher plays all out, even to the point of hurting himself. At 6' 1" and 208 pounds, Fisher has the size to bang with big defensemen and battle for the puck, and he has shown that he does not shy away from contact. The physical presence up front will hopefully open open lanes for his line mates.

Fisher has a good shot and good speed. The knock on him is that he can be inconsistent in his offensive production, which must improve. It will take some time to gel with his line, but it is hoped that this will happen quickly.

The experience that Fisher brings to the Predators is invaluable. He is a winner and knows what it takes to win games. His veteran presence should benefit greatly the leadership group in the Predators locker room. More importantly, he knows what it takes to win in the playoffs, when the intensity is ramped up. With 75 playoff games on his resume, this experience will benefit the young Predator squad.

This quality can't be oversold. In talking with several of the Predator players on Thursday, this was something they specifically mentioned. Having been a winner and knowing what it takes to win in the regular season and in the playoffs is something that they will look to Fisher to impart to the squad. This experience, according to several of the players, is what they believe will help keep the younger players focused.

Fisher is a solid locker room presence. Several Senators, such as Daniel Alfredson and Chris Neil said they would definitely miss Fisher's presence in the locker room. This speaks not only to the experience he brings but to the type of person that he is.

A good example of the character that Fisher brings to the Predators is the involvement that he had in the Ottawa community. Fisher involvement with Roger's house in Ottawa- a home for parents of children that are receiving cancer treatments at Ottawa hospitals- was extensive and tireless.He was a regular in hospital visits to children in various hospitals around Ottawa. Perhaps the best story about the type of person that is Mike Fisher was his relationship with Elgin Fraser.

Fraser was a 3 year old that was stricken with neuroblastoma, a disease that is almost always fatal. Fisher connected in a special way with Elgin, and spent numerous hours with him while he was in the hospital. Fisher brought him to practice on several occasions. When Elgin succumbed to the disease, Fisher was there with the family and served as a pall bearer at his funeral.

The acquisition of Fisher has brought the Predators a solid hockey player that will benefit the team.

It has brought the team, and the city of Nashville, a first class person.

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