Eventful Summer For Preds
It’s been almost two months since the Predators played a game. However, the anticipation of any off-season news has been met with the same intensity from fans as if the team was still fighting for the Cup. From trade rumors, to new jerseys and free agency, Nashville fans have spent very little time this summer NOT talking about the team. We’ve still got a ways to go before the season, but most, if not all transactions have been completed.
- New jerseys/sweaters- Let’s get this fluff outta the way. There’s always going to be resistance to change and the social media storm over these was no different. Every league changes uniforms, quite frequently in some cases. It’s all about marketing and bringing in money. Be honest, most of you are going to purchase them if you haven’t already.
- Trades- Matt Duchene has been rumored about since he put on a cowboy hat at the all-star skills competition. It’s no secret he wants to play in Music City (see his latest Instagram post), but it’s also evident that Joe Sakic wants a top 4 dman in return, and that’s not happening. Then we heard that the Avs and Preds made a trade!….. Involving Colin Wilson…. Oh. That’s it? Wilson, who has two years left on his deal, was traded for what it took to get Vern Fiddler as a rental. Let that sink in…. Actually when you think about it, Colorado won’t see playoff Wilson in those two years, so I guess his value makes sense.
- Alexei Emelin- What’s all this about? At first his acquisition seemed to be another piece to add to the Duchene trade possibility. That meant his rights would’ve changed from Montreal to Vegas to Nashville to Colorado in a span of a week. Yeesh. But no, he’s a Predator, much like another 74 from Montreal who used to play here.
- Free agent acquisitions- Nick Bonino. Aside from having the most epic Punjabi goal calls ever, Bonino is a solid 2-way center. Unless someone like Sissons or Jarnkrok catapult by, the 2C spot is his. He does everything that the retiring Mike Fisher did, without all the mileage.
- Scott Hartnell- A blast from the past, although the closest he came to donning gold was by wearing mustard. He brings some veteran toughness to the locker room and can chip in offensively if given the right opportunity. At the very least, he’s an instigator that can create havoc in front of the net on the power play.
- Anders Lindback- What took us so long to sign this guy? He deserves a roster spot for the trade to Tampa Bay that led to the draft selections of Western Conference final heroes Colton Sissons and Pontus Aberg. Alas, he’ll be battling in the AHL with Marek Mazanec for playing time.
- RFA’s- Poile used some of the wizardry he learned up at Northeastern to sign all of the significant rfa’s for as low as you could expect. Freddie hockey and Aberg signed bottom of the barrel deals with Gaudreau remaining on a two-way deal for the time being to allow roster flexibility. Aberg has shown glimpses of brilliance on the ice and should be a 15-20 goal scorer sooner than later. Austin Watson left his mark on every opposing player he crashed into during the playoffs. The leading hitter by a mile during the Stanley Cup run, signed a very team-friendly 3-year deal at $1.1M per.
- Arvidsson- This guy…. He is the proverbial ‘engine that could’ and he was rewarded handsomely with a new 7-year deal. I fully expected a bridge deal, but as Poile has proven before, he’s willing to pay a little more on the front end to keep players long term (see Roman Josi). By the way, if he got a 3-year deal at $4.25M, it would’ve been proper worth based on his production. But to land him for that long is an absolute steal.
- Ryan Johansen- This is the perfect deal for both parties. RyJo showed what level he can play at late in the season and particularly the playoffs when he averaged about a point per game. He showed that he’s worthy of being paid as a top tier center in the league, and still make $2.5M less per year than the guy he dominated in four games, Jonathan Toews.
- Subtractions- Obviously losing James Neal for nothing in the expansion draft is a tough pill to swallow. The decision to protect Jarnkrok over Neal was much maligned across Nashville. In my opinion, that was the first clue that Poile believed Fisher was going to retire. The player most likely to replace Neal’s productivity is Kevin Fiala. Before a gruesome leg injury that ended his season, Fiala was showing a similar projection that Arvidsson did in 2016.
- I mentioned Wilson getting traded earlier, but the Preds had to cut back on some salary to make everyone else fit and still have some flexibility. They are $5M under the cap which gives them some wiggle room for this season’s trade deadline.
- Finally, there’s Fisher. His veteran leadership will no doubt be missed amongst a largely young group in the prime of their careers. But make no mistake, Nashville’s leadership group is ready to make another run.