What Predators coach John Hynes said about NHL trade deadline after Sunday's win vs. Dallas

Will Backus
Nashville Tennessean

Just a month ago, it looked as if the Nashville Predators were headed towards a rebuild. 

They coasted drearily through the first couple of months of the regular season, struggling to make any distinguishable mark on the season. Combine the Preds' uninspiring start with a group of appealing veterans that could draw huge buys on the trade market, and it seemed a fire sale was in their future. 

But on the eve of the NHL trade deadline, Nashville continued what has been a seemingly improbable turnaround, earning a 3-2 shootout victory against the Dallas Stars on Sunday night in Bridgestone Arena. 

The Predators (23-19-1) have now won 12 of their last 15, and four of six in the month of April. It was their third shootout victory against the Stars (15-14-11). Nashville holds a sterling 5-0 record in games decided that way.

While April 12 was once circled in sharpie, it could be a quiet day for a group that's finally putting things together

"I think the commitment level that we've got from the group, and the way that we're playing, we've given ourselves a chance to compete for a playoff spot," Nashville coach John Hynes said. "We're putting ourselves in position to play some real meaningful games down the stretch here."

Nashville is firmly in the playoff hunt, holding down fourth place in the Central Division with 47 points. The Chicago Blackhawks aren't far behind with 43, while Dallas has 41. 

The question now facing Nashville's front office is to what extent, if at all, it wants to break up the current core of players. 

Mikael Granlund, 29, and Mattias Ekholm, 30, are listed in the top 15 of TSN's Trade Bait List, at eight and 11 respectively. Granlund's contract is expiring this season, while Ekholm has a year left. 

Both could be flipped for younger assets or future draft picks, which would certainly set Nashville up for more success down the road. Likewise, each would come with a steep immediate price. 

Ekholm is a fan-favorite, with 10 years of experience in Nashville. He's one of the top two-way defensemen in the league— a leader in a group that created some worry for the Predators in the preseason. 

Granlund could be a more realistic option to move, but he's been pivotal in the turnaround. In the past 15 games, he's registered at least one point in seven of them, including five goals. 

Nashville has been quiet on the trade front so far, and general manager David Poile has gone on record as believing things will stay relatively peaceful. 

While he doesn't really have a say in what moves do — or don't— get made, Hynes knows that the Predators have his team has momentum. He just wants to keep that going. 

"That's what we control as coaches and players," Hynes said. "Is the identity we play with, the effort, the energy we bring to the rink. We feel like we have a real committed group. That's what we're focused on."