During a very active summer, the Nashville Predators have changed the face of the team quite a bit in order to both fit under the salary cap and add some punch to the defense.
The team traded quit a few players upfront, with Patrick Sharp, Brooks Laich, Mason Raymond and Eric Fehr being the main moving bodies. The Predators also shipped out Daymond Langkow and Steve Sullivan to reduce the roster salaries. Coming back, the Predators received prospects, picks and a mix of younger players and veterans. Up front, Chris Stewart was obtained on the right wing with the hopes that he will one day replace Jarome Iginla's as the team's top winger. Other forwards that moved to Nashville through trades include Martin Hanzal, Andrew Ladd, Maxim Lapierre, Clarke MacArthur, Zack Smith and Mike Grier. To boost the defense, Filip Kuba and Pavel Kubina were obtained to provide both offense and defense. The Predators also traded for Erik Ersberg to provide some backup for starter Tuukka Rask. Prospect Michal Repik was also added with the hopes he would be able to serve as a call up eventually for the team.
While the Predators were active on the trade front, GM Sylvain Tremblay also dipped into the free agent market. The competition was rough and the team didn't want to handicap its future cap with larger than life contracts. The Predators ended up signing veterans Matt Cullen, Brian Rolston and Nicklas Lidstrom for a combined $7.5M annual salary. They are counted on to provide leadership and play key roles for the team for the next few years. The team also signed to entry level contracts two players: Robert Czarnik and Joel Broda.
Other newsworthy events this summer included the entry draft, where the Predators added over ten prospects to their youth pipeline. The team selected three forwards with high offensive ceilings in Beau Bennett, Jaden Schwartz and Jared Knight, along with a solid offensive defenseman in Justin Faulk. The other selections are longer shots to make it to the show but the team also plans for depth players going forward.
These changes should provide for an entertaining season and hopefully a longer playoff run. GM Tremblay even kept a healthy cushion of over $2M on the salary cap for additions down the road should the Predators do serious damage durng the season.