NHL Trade Numbers: Jets add scorer in Nino Niederreiter as Predators sell-off begins

The trade

Getting jets: Nino Niederreiter

Getting Predators: 2024 second round pick

Luszczyszyn House: It’s pretty amazing that a player as useful as Nino Niederreiter – someone who has another season of cost containment – could only make a second round pick for the Nashville Predators. Cap space remains the great equalizer in what remains a flat-cap world and while Niederreiter is worth his $4 million cap hit, that’s still not a very easy amount to swallow.

In Niederreiter, the Jets get a very efficient second-line scorer, someone who goes hard to the net and creates chances. He’s not much of a passer, but he can shoot the puck into the net. This season, he was second only to Filip Forsberg on the Predators with 1.16 goals per 60 in five-on-five and 39th overall in the league.

That alone makes this a neat thing for a second rounder, but Niederreiter’s game extends beyond that. For most of his career, Niederreiter has been an analytical darling for his ability to drive play, and has remained so for the past three seasons. In that span, his teams have earned an expected goal difference that is 0.45 per 60 higher with Niederreiter on the ice, and an actual goal difference that is half a goal per 60 higher. His streak is offensive, but his numbers are useful without the puck as well where he positively influences both expected and actual goals conceded. His impact has also been consistent every season – even after signing with Nashville – making him a safer bet for maintaining his impact at a new club.

Niedereiter isn’t the missing piece that makes the Jets the team to beat in the West, or the top-line stud that some of his underlying numbers make him to be. But he’s a nice addition who really strengthens the top nine of the team, creating more depth after the top six. He’s also adding insurance for the next two months with Cole Perfetti out injured, and the extra year on his contract means he’s out on loan too. It’s not the sexiest addition, but from Winnipeg’s end, there’s really nothing to complain about here.

That’s especially true given the costs that seem incredibly low for a bona fide top-six player. Perhaps it’s a testament to the market and what player types it values, but it still feels like Nashville should have received more here – especially given the extra year on Niederreiter’s deal. This is a clear win for the Jets and a clear disappointment for the Predators.

Predators Rank: C+
Jets quality: a

Sean Type: For a trade with a second-round choice and a non-selective name – Niederreiter is a good player and a valuable meme, but he’s not a big fish – this has dire consequences. He would have been a backup plan for the losers in the double lottery of Patrick Kane and Timo Meier. Now, as Kane-to-the-Rangers drags along and Meier’s own trial plays out, Mr. fuel/fire/etc. is off the market.

Winnipeg had kicked the periphery of the Meier discussions, and there they made sense as an option; had they not had a contract extension to hand, they probably could have picked up his one-season offer for 2024-2025 and tried to sell him as a key part of the franchise’s next phase. But beyond that, they’re at the top of an overcrowded Western Conference, and they needed a few extra forwards to differentiate themselves. The need only increased with Cole Perfetti’s injury.

In Niederreiter they have one. He has been a reliable goalscorer in recent years (86th overall since 2017/18), and is on track to reach 30 for the first time. Mason Appleton is Winnipeg’s current top-line right winger with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor. Niederreiter solves that problem and makes the Jets’ depth map much more like that of a premier contender. They are still thin, but the situation is now a lot more workable than on Saturday morning. If Meier wasn’t an option, this is a solid Plan B. The West is winnable for several teams, and the Jets are one of them.

The Predators aren’t – and they too have to deal with that slice of reality. The win-now grid that David Poile built was mostly theoretical; there’s no point in going all-in with a group that woke up Saturday with an 18 percent chance of making the postseason. Niederreiter was one of their most moving pieces due to his productivity and contract. Now Poile’s focus should turn to selling every player he can – because as it stands, the mix isn’t working.

It’s an interesting signal to fire as we head into the final week. Could Matt Duchene replace Niederreiter as Kane-Meier’s contingency plan? He has an AAV of $8 million through 2026. What would offers for Tanner Jeannot look like? He’s the kind of playoff-ready wrecking ball that playoff GMs fantasize about. Michael Granlund? Mattias Ekholm? There are parts on that roster, even if the final product is irrelevant. If we could give extra credit for injecting some narrative fun into the Deadline, Nashville would get some. Unfortunately that is not part of the assignment. The return is fine – Niederreiter was a first option for a reason – but not overwhelmingly so; he brought them the same returns Garnet Hathaway did for the Caps.

Predators Rank: B-
Jets class: A

(Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

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