With the newly announced signing of Shea Weber (picture right) following quickly behind the signing of Dan Ellis, Ryan Suter, Martin Erat, David Legwand, Jordin Tootoo, etc, etc… Predators GM David Poile has made good on his promise to sign all of the team’s restricted free agents and key personell. The trade of Chris Mason to St Louis also cleared up some salary.
But there is still a bit of a log jam. Taking the numbers from NHLSCAP.com, this appears to be our situation (adding in the Suter, Weber, and Ellis deals that aren’t updated yet).
TOTAL COMMITTED SALARY CAP NUMBER:
(Note: NHL Salary Cap is about $53mil, but the Predators are not expected to spend near the cap limit)
|PLAYER||POS||08-09 Salary Cap Number
|DE VRIES, GREG||D||2,500,000|
|SULLIVAN, STEVE||F – IR||3,200,000|
Noteable free agents & AHL Players
Our salary is already meeting David Freeman’s promise of being the largest in franchise history at over $45mil. A roster full of talent, and as important as anything – we didn’t lose anyone we wanted to keep.
This roster presents a few problems though.
Without even getting into the mess of having no true left wings (not counting Steve Sullivan) and few real natural centers, the team has 11 forwards under contract. Not a lot of room to add/drop, but still a couple of spots to have guys fight over. From last year’s roster we have Martin Gelinas and Jan Hlavac as options. Of course we could also go after a free agent on the market… or dip into the substantial talent we have in the minors. From all accounts Patric Horvqvist and Antti Pihlstrom (pictured at right) are ready for prime time, and Rich Peverly has been up with the big club multiple times in the last two years.
Personally, my vote would be to pull up at least one of those guys – get them working in the NHL. You have the luxury of having two to pick from so if one isn’t working out with an extended stay in Nashville you can swap them.
Similar problem on defense. Six defensemen locked up, but good talent sitting in the free agent/minor league pool. DeVries is overpaid and Zanon wasn’t great down the stretch but is still a bargain on his entry contract.
Personally, i think Ville Koistinen (pictured right) is responsible for making Zilicky worth keeping, and thus a must-have himself. Those two played great together when paired, especially on the power play. Klein i think is more valuable as a trade asset than on the ice right now. There are others deeper on the depth chart, but room needs to be made in front of them for any of them to see a shot at big league ice time this year.
Ellis should be strong, though his one weakness will be his health issues. If the coaches try to push him through 65+ games next year i don’t think he’ll hold up. He had trouble keeping on the weight and only played 44 games last year (at times dropping 10+lbs every time he went on the ice). Rinne has been the ‘goalie of the future’ for a while, so this will be a great chance for him to get a lot of play time without having to carry the franchise on his still-young (but very sizable) shoulders.
So yes, we’re in great shape. We have needs (strong, scoring forward) but are in good position with prospects and assets to spare.
What are your thoughts? Do you want the Predators to trade for a big name? Bring up Horvqvist or Pihlstrom? Should they resign Koistinen or Klein?
Good story so far… and next season should be one heck of a ride.