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Numbers Game: Predators Acquire Fisher

Scott Cullen
2/10/2011 2:09:02 PM
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Ottawa's disastrous season paved the way for them to move a long-time leader to Nashville.

Numbers Game examines the Mike Fisher deal.

The Predators Get: C Mike Fisher.

Fisher, 30, has been a strong two-way centre in Ottawa since 1999-2000 but, like most Senators, he's in the midst of a brutal campaign. 

While his goal production isn't off much -- the four-time 20-goal scorer has 14 in 55 games this year -- Fisher's minus-19 rating is easily a career-worst.  On pace for 36 points, that would be only the second time in the last six years that Fisher has failed to produce at least 40 points.

Standard scoring numbers don't tell the whole story for Fisher, to be sure, as he ranks second among Senators forwards in hits (91) and third among all NHL forwards in blocked shots with 59. 

Listed at 6-foot-1, 213 pounds, Fisher is very strong and can win battles along the boards and in front of the net.  In fact, he scored a career-high 10 power play goals last season, many from the doorstep of the opponent's goal.

The Predators are missing two centres from their lineup right now, as Matthew Lombardi has been limited to two games this year by a concussion, while rookie Cal O'Reilly is out for a couple of months with a broken leg. 

Additionally, Marcel Goc left Tuesday's win over Detroit with an upper body injury, so Nashville may be even thinner down the middle leading up to this deal.

Given the remaining centres on the Nashville roster -- David Legwand, Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling, maybe Colin Wilson -- the Predators will be able to use Fisher in an offensive role, or at least as offensive as roles are for Predators forwards (Sergei Kostitsyn leads Nashville forwards with 32 points in 51 games).

With 27 games remaining on the schedule, Fisher could put up 14-16 points if joining a team in playoff contention might help lift his production back to previously established levels.

Fisher may not be a big offensive upgrade, but his two-way game will allow him to play a significant role in the Music City.

Fisher is under contract for two more seasons, at $4.2-million per season but, more importantly for the const-conscious Predators, that $8.4-million in total cap hit over the next two years will cost Nashville $7-million total ($4-million next season and $3-million in 2012-2013).

Outside the numbers, it certainly seems like a natural fit for Fisher, married to country music star Carrie Underwood, to wind up with Nashville.

The Senators Get: A first-round pick in 2011 and a conditional draft pick in 2012.

Ottawa has been in a tailspin, winning once in the last 18 games, so they're already well on track to have an early pick in the first round this year.  Adding another first-round pick from Nashville, even if happens to be in the lower half of the round, will help with the rebuilding process that is now underway in the nation's capital.

The average value for a pick in the second half of the first round is still on the fringe of the NHL, but there are many, many players taken in that range that have become stars as well. 

Playoff success for the Predators will determine the value of the conditional pick, with Ottawa getting a third-round pick if the Predators win one round in the 2011 playoffs, or a second-round pick should the Predators win two rounds.

Moving Fisher's contract out, combined with other unrestricted free agents (Alex Kovalev, Chris Phillips, Pascal Leclaire, Jarkko Ruutu) will give the Senators plenty of flexibility this summer as they attempt to rebuild their roster.

Since the Senators are out of contention this season, filling in for Fisher is going to fall to whomever remains to play centre.  For now, Jason Spezza and Chris Kelly are veterans who will handle the most workload at centre, but young players like Zack Smith, Jim O'Brien and Peter Regin could all see increased opportunities as well.

Ultimately, the Predators are a better team for making this deal and the Senators have to hope that they will be able to reap rewards from the draft picks received four or five years down the road.

* - Contract terms from www.capgeek.com

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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