The Nashville Predators are looking to make a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2024. And at the moment, they are in good shape. Nashville possesses the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. And they hold a four-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for that spot. St. Louis has two games in hand, but so far, so good.

The Predators are a team with talent on the roster. Juuse Saros is one of the better goalies in the league. He is experiencing a bit of a down season, to be fair. But he has an incredible track record, providing hope that he can bounce back. Nashville also has the likes of Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, and Ryan O'Reilly as well.

The Predators aren't a bad team in the slightest. That said, they also aren't a perfect team. Granted, no team in the NHL is, but the point remains. Nashville needs to do some work if they want to do anything in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And with the NHL Trade Deadline on the horizon, now is the time to do it.

But what exactly could Nashville look to do between now and March 8? Who could they look to acquire, and are there any players that could be traded? Let's take a look at the dream NHL Trade Deadline scenario for the Nashville Predators this year.

Predators' biggest need

Washington Capitals right wing Nic Dowd (26) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks in the first period at Capital One Arena.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville's biggest need isn't necessarily offense or defense. Sure, they could add in both of those areas. You can never have enough scoring or defensive depth. However, I think their primary need is a bit more narrow than that. Nashville's biggest need is on both special teams units.

The Predators have a bottom-15 power-play unit in the NHL. Furthermore, they have a bottom-10 penalty-killing unit this year. Their penalty kill is especially disappointing. Last year, it was a strength. They killed off 82.5% of the penalties they took in 2022-23, which was a top-10 mark in the league.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are intense. Games become much more physical, and every wrong move can haunt a team. Teams must be able to capitalize on power plays and kill penalties in the playoffs. As of now, the Predators don't feel like a team that could be sunk by their less-than-ideal special teams play.

A dream NHL Trade Deadline in Smashville

As a result, the dream scenario for Nashville at the NHL Trade Deadline is improving their special teams depth. Adding a player that can kill penalties or score on the power play could go a long way. And the Predators won't have to break the bank to address this issue.

One player who would drastically improve the penalty kill is Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd. Dowd anchors one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. And he will generate a ton of interest around the NHL Trade Deadline. In fact, some reports state that he may fetch a first-round pick.

Nashville likely wants to avoid paying that. If they can, adding Dowd is an absolute must. He is signed through the 2024-25 season, so they are getting an extra year. And his $1.3 million cap hit is something Nashville can fully take on. Dowd is out with an upper-body injury, though he is said to be day-to-day, so he shouldn't be out too long.

If Nashville wanted to swing for the fences, Anaheim Ducks forward Frank Vatrano could provide power play help. The Ducks forward is having a career year, having scored 26 goals and 45 points in 58 games. The 29-year-old has scored 16 of his 45 points on the man advantage this season.

Adding either of these players would boost Nashville's playoff chances. In any event, the Predators should look to bolster their special teams units at the NHL Trade Deadline. It'll greatly improve their chances of going far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.