The Jets have been losing their grip on a top-two spot in the Central Division, and they've been looking for some additional offensive firepower. Niederreiter should provide that, and he didn't come at an exorbitant cost.
After a few years of toiling away in the middle of the NHL standings, it appears as though the Predators have decided to become a seller. That is good news for a franchise that has been mired in mediocrity for a while, but it doesn't seem like Nashville maximized Niederreiter's value in this deal.
Let's take a deeper look at how the Predators and Jets fared in this trade.
Dating back to Jan. 24, the Jets are 4-7-0 and have scored two or fewer goals in eight of those games. As a result of that skid, Winnipeg is in jeopardy of falling into a wild card spot after holding down a top-two spot in the Central Division for much of the season.
The Jets needed to do something to improve their offense and make themselves a more formidable playoff team. Niederreiter will help in both of those areas.
Niederreiter was second on the Predators in goals with 18, and he is on pace for 26 this season. Since the 2014-15 season, Niederreiter has been a perennial 20-goal scorer with the exception of the 2018-19 season when he tallied nine goals in 46 games played.
On top of his solid traditional stats, Niederreiter's teams control possession when he is on the ice. This year, Nashville controlled 52.86% of the five-on-five expected goals with Niederreiter on the ice, per Natural Stat Trick. That number was third among Predators with more than 10 games played. Even dating back to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild, Niderreiter has been an analytics darling.
Another plus in this deal for Winnipeg is that Niederreiter isn't just a rental. He is signed for one more season at an incredibly team-friendly cap hit of $4 million. In a time when the NHL is operating with a relatively flat salary cap, finding value wherever it exists is invaluable.
Niderreiter should slot right into a top-six role with the Jets. Whether he plays on a line with Mark Schiefele or Pierre-Luc Dubois remains to be seen, but Niederreiter will give Winnipeg a tenacious forechecker with a decent scoring touch.
Considering the Jets only had to give up a 2024 second-round pick, this is good work by general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Jets aren't suddenly a Stanley Cup favorite with Niederreiter on the roster, but they are now an improved team in a wide open Western Conference, and they got a good deal in the process. Grade -- A
It's not hard to find a positive spin for the Predators here. This team hasn't resembled a Stanley Cup contender for several years now, and it hasn't won a playoff round since 2018. It's probably past time for Nashville to accept reality and turn its attention to the future.
The Preds are seven points out of a playoff spot with just 26 games remaining, and their bleak playoff chances forced general manager David Poile's hand with less than a week left until the trade deadline. Nashville has finally taken the first step toward a rebuild, but the downside is that this does feel like a bit of an underwhelming start.
Niederreiter is a legitimate top-six winger with a strong track record of driving offense, and he's signed through the 2023-23 season on a team-friendly deal. Given the current salary cap situation for most contenders, it seems like the Predators should have been able to squeeze more out of Niederreiter than just a second-round pick, even if it was a mid-level prospect.
The Predators have come to grips with reality, and the idea of them being a seller at the trade deadline should be music to the fans' ears. Nashville just needs to make sure it does a better job of maximizing value down the road. Grade -- C