On Wednesday (January 30th) it was announced by the NHL that Austin Watson will be indefinitely suspended without pay for alcohol abuse.
What does this suspension mean for the predators?
1. This news may mean that Austin Watson has played his last game for awhile, short term, this will be difficult for the predators as they are not great on the penalty kill and they lack size.
2. The predators will have to replace Watson. Not many players play like Austin Watson, temporarily, the lines will have to be shifted for a missing player and this will likely hinder the play of Watson's line mates. It is possible that Ryan Hartman or Craig Smith will replace Watson on the second although lines shift night to night.
3. This makes a trade much more likely. Prior to Watson's suspension, there was a large amount of speculation about a possible trade for the Predators. Many believed the Preds would target someone big and someone who can get in front of the goal, especially on the power play which the Preds have had extreme trouble with this season. As Watson was a big body, a bruiser, and a fantastic penalty killer, the Preds will likely struggle to replace him. It is possible that the Preds will acquire someone like Wayne Simmonds for a draft pick and possibly a prospect. Do not be surprised if Poile pulls some magic ahead of the trade deadline!