In his fourth season in the NHL, Derek Grant has already bounced between four franchises. The former fourth-round pick in the 2008 entry draft has yet to score an NHL goal in his 77-game career. That lack of production was enough for the Buffalo Sabres to waive the center last week.
If no one had claimed Grant, Buffalo would have been able to send him to Rochester of the AHL. The Sabres had kept him around, and he made the team originally this fall, because of a great preseason he had with the club. However, in 35 regular-season games, little production developed. Grant recorded just three total points (all assists) and played barely 10 minutes a night. He was semi-effective on the other end, combining for 43 hits and blocks, but it wasn’t enough for the Sabres to keep him around. What precipitated a move was the pending return of Tyler Ennis from injury. Ennis had been out since early November because of a sports hernia and groin surgery. The roster move paid off for the Sabres, as Ennis scored just seconds into his return to the ice.
As for Grant, his main strength was on face-offs, where he won 52.6 percent of them at even strength. According to the Buffalo News, that made him the second-best center at face-offs for Buffalo. He also took the third-most draws on the team.
Whether because of that face-off ability, Grant’s physicality, or a combination of the two, he did not end up clearing waivers. Instead, the Nashville Predators put in a claim and won his rights.
Grant comes to the Predators, who are in need of depth at the forward spots. James Neal just returned from injured reserve; Miikka Salomaki is currently still on IR; Colin Wilson was also placed on IR with a lower-body injury.
Because of these depth issues, Nashville has made multiple moves. They traded for winger Cody McLeod from Colorado. It also claimed multiple players off waivers, with Grant just being one of the pieces who will be given a chance to compete.
Grant recorded a point in his second game as a member of Nashville and may provide a high-upside, low-risk play for the team. He is making just $650,000 dollars for 2017 and will be a free agent following the season. There is little downside for Nashville in taking a chance on him. Of course, it will take him some time to get acclimated to yet another new squad, his fourth in four years. He has played just 13 combined minutes in his first two games with Nashville.
If Grant doesn’t gel with the Predators, he could find himself on waivers once again later this spring. Or, even if he plays out the season, he will be without a contract in the offseason. This opportunity will not be something he can squander.