Even though the Predators lost to the Wings in the conference finals, summer isn’t idle in Nashville. The Predators have made a flurry of moves so far this summer, in a complete retool of the team.
The taste of the conference finals has motivated the management to build an even stronger team. However, considering that some of the stars that helped the team get that far into the playoffs are close to retiring, the strategy of keeping the same team for the next few years just wasn’t working.
Nashville was also victim of its success drafting good prospects: there was a perennial problem in keeping below the contract limit. This was a double edged sword. On one hand, the team had a good youth influx but on the other hand it was hard adding quality players from outside.
With that in mind, the Predators have taken steps to make room on their roster. To add good assets, they had to let go some promising young players. Heading into UFAs, this is a resume of the changes that have been made through trading/signing:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Craig Smith, Marian Gaborik, Brett Connolly, Brett Ritchie, Derrick Pouliot, Igor Shesterkin, Nikita Scherbak, Colton White, Vinnie Hinostroza, Max McCormick, Max Willman, Lance Bouma, Tyler Lewington, BUF 3 2018, NSH 5 2019, NSH 7 2018
Radim Vrbata, David Perron, Mathieu Perreault, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Anthony Cirelli, Wade Allison, David Bernhardt, TB 1 2018, BUF 1 2019, SJ 2 2018, COL 2 2018, ANA 2 2018, STL 2 2018, STL 3 2018, NJD 3 2018, CAR 4 2018, BUF 6 2019, BOS 8 2019
Currently, considering these trades and signings, the Predators still have a couple of holes to plug on their lineup:
Forwards : Perron – Schwartz – Vrbata, Janmark – Perreault – Iginla, Paquette – Girgensons – Bennett, Jaskin – Sissons - ?
Defense: Klefbom – Klein, Dumoulin – Edmundson, Santini - ?
Goalies: Talbot, Montoya
With only two holes to fill, this line-up runs at about $38.5M including farm payroll, prospects and coach. This leaves approximately $6.5M for UFAs which should be plenty to fill the remaining positions. At worse, Zach Mitchell will likely fill in on the 4th line.
The organisation has also been prudent for the future. Veteran contracts worth $11.1M are expiring at years end (plus another $3.9M should Iginla retire), making room for raises or additions in 2018-19.
The Predators have also loaded up on picks for the 2018 draft. They currently own three picks in the first round, six in the second round and four in the third round. Those 13 selections in the top 90 should give the team some exciting up and comers.
As usual, Nashville will try to get in the playoffs and battle for the next cup. However, the best will come in the years after.