For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators made it into the second round of the NHL playoffs. They have a savvy GM, a great head coach and a tremendous pool of young talent. Having that said, this is going to be a very challenging offseason for the Preds.
One area Nashville doesn’t have to worry about is in goal, as they are set with All Star Pekka Rinne and a giant of a backup in Anders Lindback. The Preds blueline is their bread and butter both in terms of their NHL personnel and their top prospects. The D is anchored by their top pair of Suter and Weber; which basically shut the Sedins down in the playoffs, despite losing to Vancouver. Up front, Nashville is still hurting from the loss of Radulov years ago, but under the radar additions like Sergei Kostitsyn, and the emergence of some of their prospects (Wilson, Geoffrion, Halischuk) explain why the low budget Predators make the playoffs year after year.
Other than potential trades, GM David Poile won’t be adding any major free agents with big contracts. He does, however, have some tough tasks this summer despite having over $26M in cap space. First and foremost, he must get Shea Weber signed long term, as he is slated to be a UFA in 2 years. Second of all, he needs to find an affordable veteran D who can play top 4 minutes on the left side, especially considering Bouillon’s questionable health status. Up front, he needs to deal with his RFA problem right away. The NHLPA filed a grievance that the Predators did not qualify them on time, so they could become UFAs soon. This list includes Kostitsyn, Spaling, O’Reilly and Halischuk. Finally, he needs to add a top 6 winger, which could prove very difficult and would require a creative trade; or it could be very simple in the sense that Alexander Radulov could return and immediately fill that void.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2011-12 ROSTER (using CAPGEEK CAP CALCULATOR)
Sergei Kostitsyn (RFA) / Mike Fisher ($4.200m) / Patric Hornqvist ($3.083m)
Martin Erat ($4.500m) / David Legwand ($4.500m) / TOP 6 WINGER
Colin Wilson ($1.725m) / Blake Geoffrion ($1.062m) / Matt Halischuk (RFA)
Nick Spaling (RFA) / Jerred Smithson ($0.800m) / Jordin Tootoo ($1.250m)
Matthew Lombardi ($3.500m) / Cal O’Reilly (RFA)
Ryan Suter ($3.500m) / Shea Weber (RFA)
2ND PAIR LD / Cody Franson ($0.800m)
Jonathon Blum ($0.941m) / Kevin Klein ($1.350m)
Francis Bouillon ($1.350m)
Pekka Rinne ($3.400m) / Anders Lindback ($0.875m)
BUYOUTS: J.P. Dumont ($1.333m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000
CAP PAYROLL: $38,170,833
CAP SPACE: $26,129,167
If the Nashville Predators can address all of their needs, odds are they will be a playoff team once again this year. Hopefully Matt Lombardi will be healthy this season, because if he is, he is yet another forward who can play on the top 3 lines and add to the tremendous depth they already have. A very good season is crucial, especially considering the 2012 UFA status of Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne, but that’s a subject for another day.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.