Kyle Turris is frustrated. We know this because, well, Kyle Turris said so himself. And, frankly, who could possibly blame him?
At the time Turris spoke out about his dissatisfaction with the Nashville Predators’ lineup decisions late last week, he was about to sit out his second consecutive game as a healthy scratch. And you can rest assured his feelings have only been exacerbated in the time since. Ahead of the Predators’ Saturday meeting with the Blues, Turris was made a healthy scratch for the third consecutive outing, and it doesn't seem his displeasure is about to subside. Unless something changes between now and Monday’s puck drop, all signs point to Turris running his streak of consecutive games on the sidelines to four. He's slated to sit out the second half of the home-and-home against St. Louis.
If you find Turris’ spot on the sidelines is befuddling, you’re not alone, and what has made his lack of playing time all the more confounding is that it has come at the exact moment that it seems as though Nashville could, you know, use someone like Turris or the lineup could handle a bit of a shakeup. Prior to Saturday’s win, Turris sat idly by as Nashville dropped their fifth and sixth games in a row. And even in the Predators’ losing streak-snapping victory, it looked as though the injury picked up by Viktor Arvidsson – not to mention the subsequent announcement that he’ll be sidelined for four to six weeks – was going to clear a way for Turris’ return to active duty, unfortunate as the circumstances may have been.
Alas, sensible as that assumption may seem, turns out it’s an incorrect one. The Predators announced Monday that reigning AHL MVP and Milwaukee Admirals leading scorer Daniel Carr, who has skated in three NHL contests this season, has been recalled from the farm. And, would you look at that, Carr found himself taking reps in Monday’s practice as part of the top six alongside Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund. So, presuming once again that there are no surprise changes coming, that’s a sure sign Turris stands to be sidelined in favor of Carr, Rocco Grimaldi and rookie Mathieu Olivier, among others. It’s also a sign that the Turris-sized quandary facing the Nashville brass is only becoming more complex.
Ahead of this season, and after the disappointment of last, there were no shortage of reports that Turris was trade fodder. A promising 10-points-in-10-games performance that saw him captain Canada to silver at the World Championship, however, quelled some of that talk and had some believing his presence on the Predators roster to open the season meant he was going to be given the chance to bounce back. The repeated scratches and a 19-game run in which he’s averaged a scant 13:34 per game have thrown water on that notion, however, and now the Predators, and specifically GM David Poile, find themselves in something of a catch-22.
At this rate, with Turris consistently out of the lineup and coach Peter Laviolette seemingly possessing little-to-no interest in reinserting the pivot back into the lineup, one imagines Poile would be amenable to the idea of re-homing the 30-year-old center if for no other reason than to get some salary cap relief. Turris’ $6-million cap hit – on a deal he is less than two seasons into – is tied for the third-highest cap hit among all Predators forwards, so it stands to reason that the best course of action would be to move him along if he’s not being utilized. However, Poile likely doesn’t want to move Turris for next to nothing, especially not when he was acquired at a hefty price that included then-prospects Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev and a second-round pick.
Trouble is, next-to-nothing might be about all Turris is worth at the moment. Though he has four goals and nine points this season, which equates to a 17-goal, 39-point pace across an 82-game campaign, Turris entered 2019-20 looking to recover from a trade value-sapping seven-goal, 23-point performance in 55 games last season. That he hasn’t been a lineup fixture and has not at all been relied upon as a top contributor has done nothing whatsoever to increase his value. So, you can see the dilemma: Poile may have interest in moving Turris, but shipping Turris out and getting something of value in return – or even trading him without having to retain salary – is undoubtedly far easier said than done.
Right now, though, this appears to be a problem with no simple solution. By base metrics, Turris has performed well. By advanced metrics, he’s been OK, too. But no matter the numbers, he doesn’t appear to be a first, second or even third choice of the Predators’ coaching staff. It’s unlikely Laviolette and Co. will have their personnel decisions influenced much, if at all, by any desire the Nashville front office might have to showcase Turris for a trade, either. Does Poile then decide to simply bite the bullet and move Turris for scraps? Or does Poile hold on and hope Turris' value increases, not decreases, over the weeks and months that remain in the season? The latter isn't a sure bet.
One way or another, it seems safe to suggest that the two sides cannot continue on like this all that much longer. Turris, when speaking about his frustration, told media that he wanted to be in Nashville, wanted to win there and wanted to take advantage of every opportunity he received. Those opportunities, though, have been limited by his ice time and now further by the fact he hasn’t seen any action in what soon stands to be four consecutive outings. And if there's no change, a split might be what’s best for both sides, if only to give the Predators relief and Turris the chance to prove he can be valuable elsewhere.
Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.