Bloomberg Businessweek decided to find the smartest spenders in sport — analyzing payroll-versus-wins in the four majors in the past five years. Up at the top of the list? The Nashville Predators, with four post-season appearances in the period and the fifth-most wins in the NHL while staying an average of $10 million below the cap. The Titans come in at 42nd.
While the Predators are noted for their relative efficiency on a modest payroll, there is some question whether the little dots in the above table can ever be replaced with a trophy indicating a title.
Nashville's Best Sports Blog, On The Forecheck, in the wake of Moneyball's theatrical release, examined the similarities between those Billy Beane Oakland baseball teams and the Predators and found some striking parallels — but one of which is that neither won the big trophy. The question is whether Poile in the front office and Barry Trotz on the ice can win a Stanley Cup with Predator hockey — one OTF's Dirk Hoag asked before this season started.
His conclusion: Smart money isn't always as good as big money.
The current formula can carry the team into the playoffs consistently, but once there, are the Predators really prepared to battle and beat the best? Goaltending and defense can indeed be advantages, but the hard work angle probably isn't — at playoff time, everybody's motivated.
Is there time and budget space for David Poile to address these concerns? Absolutely. But if we get close to the opening of the regular season and we're still hearing about how high the upside is for this team of young kids, or that defense and goaltending can carry the Preds to the next level competitively, prepare yourselves for a very bumpy ride.