NHL Hockey

Simmonds might make Predators debut at St. Louis

The Nashville Predators should have one of their new additions available Tuesday as they try to end some recent struggles against the St. Louis Blues.

Wayne Simmonds appears set to debut for the visiting Predators, who will look to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat to the Blues.

Nashville, sitting atop the Central Division following a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Monday, was active right up until the day's trade deadline. In separate deals Monday, the Predators acquired winger Mikael Granlund from the Minnesota Wild for Kevin Fiala, then received Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Ryan Hartman and a 2020 conditional draft pick.

The moves followed earlier February acquisitions of fellow veterans Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod.

"I really think going into the trade deadline that we had a good team," Predators general manager David Poile said. "I was happy before (Monday) started, and I feel we're in a better place today."

Simmonds, who will be reunited with current Predators and former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, is expected to play Tuesday, according to Poile. Granlund could have his Nashville debut delayed because his fiancee was in labor when the trade was made.

An unrestricted free agent after the season, Simmonds recorded at least 24 goals in each of the previous five campaigns, but he has just 16 goals with 11 assists over 62 games in 2018-19. The 30-year-old has just four points in his past 14 contests, but a change of scenery could jump-start things. Simmonds remains one of the more physical forwards in the game.

Granlund, who turns 27 on Tuesday, was second on the Wild with 49 points (15 goals, 34 assists). He is in position to reach 20 goals for a third consecutive season.

Each has the potential to boost an offense that features the NHL's worst power-play unit (12.3 percent success rate).

"Both players play the power play, both players have been effective on the power play for a long time," Poile said.

Regardless who suits up for the Predators, the team is looking to end an 0-2-1 slide against St. Louis after winning the season's first meeting 4-1 at home.

The Blues are 1-1-1 following their club-record 11-game winning streak, and they are looking to rebound after a 2-1 overtime loss at Minnesota on Sunday. Earning the point was key for St. Louis, which sits third in the Central.

"We're in a playoff spot as of today, and hopefully we can continue that the rest of the games we have left," goalie Jake Allen told the Blues' official website.

Allen made 33 saves against the Wild, but rookie Jordan Binnington could be in goal Tuesday. Binnington is 6-0-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average as a starter at home, including a 29-save effort in a 3-2 win over Nashville on Feb. 9.

St. Louis' Vladimir Tarasenko has 16 goals with 15 assists over a 24-game stretch, and he has four goals and an assist against the Predators in 2018-19. Three of those goals came in a 5-4 win at Nashville on Feb. 10, including the deciding tally in overtime.

The Blues also made a move Monday, adding depth to their blue line by acquiring veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2019 sixth-round draft pick.

Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who made 25 saves Monday against Edmonton, and has a 2.05 goals-against average while splitting his two starts versus St. Louis this season. Backup Juuse Saros, however, could start Tuesday despite allowing five goals in each of his two starts against the Blues in 2018-19.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 26, 2019

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