The Nashville Predators were unceremoniously eliminated by the Dallas Stars in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so what’s next?
The Predators were able to bolster their roster at the deadline and keep their first round pick. They will have the 19th pick in the first round of the draft.
They will also have six other picks in the draft. These picks include a 3rd round pick, two in the 4th round, and one in each subsequent round. Their second round pick was traded to New Jersey in the Brian Boyle trade.
Check out our Draft Rankings to see who may be available for the Predators at #19. Also be on the look out for the Puck77 Mock Draft.
Nashville does have a few key pieces that they may want to lock up. Let’s look at the key free agents on the roster.
Wayne Simmonds– RW/ LW
Simmonds was the big splash move for the Preds at the deadline. The intent was that he and Brian Boyle would add a net front presence and bolster the much-maligned power play. That plan never transpired, as they finished the season at an abysmal 16.7% on the power play following the deadline. Wayne Simmonds had 1 goal and 2 assists in 17 games with the Predators. Simmonds will turn 31 in August and will be looking for a significant raise from his $3.9M salary.
Generally players in their final contract prefer to have stability, and Nashville does not generally offer No-Trade protection. I do not envision them re-signing Simmonds.
Brian Boyle– LW/ C
Another mid-season acquisition by David Poille, the Predators sent a 2nd round pick to the New Jersey Devils. Few players can energize a locker room better than Brian Boyle. Ever since overcoming cancer, he has been a feel good story. He even netted a hat trick against Pittsburgh on “Hockey Fights Cancer Night.” However, his numbers do not justify a multi-year deal. If they can convince him to come back for one-year at ~$1.25M, he is certainly worth it, but if it gets more expensive, I would pass.
Restricted Free Agents
One of the things that is very noticeable is the lack of defenseman on the Free Agent lists above, and that will bring us to our next topic.
P.K. Subban– D
This narrative is as demoralizing as the Phil Kessel narrative in Pittsburgh, but every year this becomes the most trending trade rumor in hockey. Subban is one of the most talented defenseman in the league, and would net a huge return for Nashville, but would the return be justified? The lack of production from their wingers will definitely push this narrative throughout the off-season.
Ryan Ellis– D
The Predators have so much talent on their back-end. Ellis is another guy that could be expendable for the right return. I know he just signed an 8-year extension, but the price tag on the contract would make it very movable. The return would be much greater than Subban could bring.
Juuse Saros– G
A young goaltender with starting experience and a team friendly contract, every team would knock down the Preds door if they knew he was available. Unfortunately for Sarros, Rinne will be the starter for the next two seasons. I believe that Nashville will have to consider moving Sarros.
Free Agent Targets
Artemi Panarin– LW
I know this guy will be the top target on everyone’s list, but the need for scoring wingers justifies his inclusion on this list. He will likely command an $11M per year salary, but the low tax rates in Tennessee may make Nashville an attractive destination.
Ryan Dzingel– C/ RW/ LW
Dzingel’s versatility will make him another attractive target. Though, he may provide a cheaper alternative to Panarin. I assume that his salary will land somewhere near $7M per year.
Matt Duchene– C
Here is a name that has been linked to Nashville for quite some time. It was rumored that the Predators made a strong push at the deadline to acquire Duchene, but eventually lost out to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He will be courted by many teams in free agency, and I don’t know if Nashville will have the cap space to make a contending offer. Corresponding moves will need to be made to free up some salary.
Re-signing Brian Boyle is their best option, but if that falls through, there are other affordable options. Thomas Vanek, Pat Maroon, and Troy Brouwer would be attractive, low-budget options to add scoring depth.
The Nashville Predators is a team that relies on it’s blue line to create offense. While it has provided great success in the regular season, the last two postseasons have been a disappointment. They desperately need to add scoring from their forward group and improve their power play in the off-season.
stats from hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals