NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nashville Predators bolstered their rosters through trades with the Devils and Rangers on Wednesday, adding size and toughness in an attempt to fill the void created by the absence of three of their players.
That does not mean General Manager David Poile is necessarily finished trying to improve his team, the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners. Three weeks remain until the N.H.L. trade deadline, and no matter how happy Poile is with his roster after trading for two veteran forwards in Brian Boyle from the Devils and Cody McLeod from the Rangers, he thinks things can always be better.
Poile plans to keep making calls, listening and paying attention until the deadline on Feb. 25.
“I think just look for the right deal,” Poile said. “If we can improve our club, we’re going to do that. I’m comfortable with what we have in our depth and filling the holes that I thought we had or got created by the three players that we’ve lost in the last couple weeks. But if we can improve our team in the next three weeks, we will certainly do that.”
The Predators lost defenseman Anthony Bitetto to a waiver claim to Minnesota on Jan. 25, trying to sneak him to the lower-tier A.H.L. for some playing time. Forward Austin Watson was suspended indefinitely on Jan. 29 under the N.H.L.’s substance abuse program. And Poile announced Wednesday that forward Zac Rinaldo would have season-ending surgery for an injured shoulder.
Nashville center Kyle Turris has missed 17 straight games but could return Thursday against Dallas or this weekend for a back-to-back, home-and-home series against St. Louis. Forward Miikka Salomaki also may be closing to a return from an injury.
Poile swapped the Predators’ second-round pick in June’s N.H.L. draft for Boyle and will send the Rangers a seventh-round pick in the 2020 N.H.L. draft for McLeod. That was prompted by a worst-case scenario of Watson possibly not returning this season.
That left size as the most immediate need filled by both Boyle, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward who can play center and wing, and the 6-foot-2, 245-pound McLeod. That should help Nashville better match up with the Winnipeg Jets, who ousted the Predators in the second round in seven games last postseason.
“This year it will have to be through Winnipeg,” Poile said. “There are no guarantees that’s the case, but yes — I think we wanted to have more size in our lineup.”
Both Boyle and McLeod should be in Nashville and available Thursday night when the Predators host Dallas.
Boyle, 34, has 13 goals and 19 points in his 12th N.H.L. season, and he also has 88 hits in 47 games with the Devils this season. Boyle won the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after battling chronic myeloid leukemia.
He originally was drafted 26th overall in the 2003 draft held in Nashville by Los Angeles, and he has played 740 career NHL games with 211 points. He also has blocked 513 shots and 1,498 hits and played in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 with the Rangers and in 2015 with Tampa Bay. Boyle has 28 points in 111 career postseason games.