For the most part, this summer’s free-agency began with a fart instead of a bang. No teams have made any significant signings, particularly those that pose a serious threat to the Predators. In my opinion, the most significant impact to the Predators this season has come in the form of trades, with the Philadelphia Flyers sending Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings and Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Even though we face the Blue Jackets twice more a season than we do the Kings, I still see Richards to the Kings as the greater threat between the two. The Blue Jackets have made some bold moves this summer bringing on Carter and defenseman James Wisniewski, but until they get a goaltender that can effectively play the position I can’t take them seriously as a playoff hopeful. The Kings however, have made the playoffs the last 2 seasons in a tough Pacific division and were already considered a Stanley Cup contender going into the playoffs last season. The Preds struggled mightily against the Kings last season, never quite finding the proper match-ups to counter the Kings’ size and speed. Richards is a tough, mean player who plays on the edge, much like our own Jordin Tootoo, but with greater offensive skill.
Which brings us to today… After making significant strides as a franchise last season, the Predators have made no additions since bowing out of the 2nd round in the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the exception of signing a couple of minor-leaguers who we can expect to see stay in Europe or play in Milwaukee. Nashville recently bought out the final year of forward J.P. Dumont’s contract, whose effectiveness as a player essentially all but stopped when he suffered a concussion after a cheap head shot courtesy of Vancouver 2 years ago, and watched today as their unrestricted free agents went on to other teams. So you may wonder, were the Predators not wanting to improve the club? Sullivan was already announced not to be a part of the team’s future, with his age and proneness to injury playing a significant part in the decision. But Ward is coming of a career playoff run, and Goc was having a career season before having it suddenly cut short with a shoulder injury that required surgery. I had personally gone to bed last night hopeful that both Ward and Goc would be returning to the Nashville roster. In the early afternoon, it was announced that Goc had signed a 3-year deal with the Florida Panthers at $1.7 million per season. A couple of hours later, we learned that Steve Sullivan had signed a 1-year deal with the Pittsburgh
Pansies Penguins at $1.5 m, while Joel Ward had struck up a deal with the Washington Capitals for 4 years at $3m per. While all great players in their own right, both Florida and Washington overpaid for their acquisitions, which is common for the first day of free agency. Not offering this money towards 3rd and 4th line forwards, areas of strength on the Nashville roster, the team was able to preserve almost $9m for the coming season (including the Dumont buyout.) Considering the number of restricted free agent forwards (Sergei Kostitsyn, Nick Spaling, Cal O’Reilly, Matt Halischuk, Chris Mueller, Linus Klasen and Andreas Thurreson) as well as the must-sign RFA defenseman Shea Weber that still have to be extended, allowing those three to leave almost certainly had to be done. In the end, I can’t help but see this as addition by subtraction.
Care to leave your thoughts?