Blogs
POSTED ON Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 4:41 PM

The Nashville Predators radio play-by-play duo of Stu Grimson and Willy Daunic break down Wednesday's trade for Michael Del Zotto before the team takes on the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 6:01 PM

Today, the Predators traded mainstay defender Kevin Klein to the New York Rangers in exchange for Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. A few thoughts on the net impact on the Predators roster on the ice and in terms of the economics.

On the Ice

Klein was steady in his own end; a very capable defender slotted typically in the Preds’ second or third pairing. A hard-nosed player (see Antoine Roussel on 01.20.14) who was not afraid to activate up ice. Though “Kleiner” was not a person you looked to for offense consistently. A player like this will be missed; a great shot blocker and he could be a calming influence in your own end.

On the other hand, the most notable characteristic Del Zotto brings to the table is an upside up-ice. And for obvious reasons, David Poile is looking to boost production. Stepping into the Rangers roster directly out of the OHL, Del Zotto posted a remarkable 37 points, including nine goals, in 2009-10. In 2011-12, he set a career best scoring 10 goals while posting 41 total points. There’s lots to like here, providing Del Zotto is able to overcome the apparent sporadic play in his own end that saw him scratched from the Rangers lineup for several games earlier this season.

The Money

Klein is a fair value with a cap hit of $2.9m for this and the next four years. That number would be considered in range for a defenseman ranked anywhere from third to fifth on an NHL roster. So if you’re New York, you get cap certainty on a mainstay in your lineup.

Moving Klein gives you space today and going forward to make even significant adjustments to your lineup for a team that may be reconsidering whether it satisfactorily restored its identity last summer. Especially considering that you just moved Matt Hendricks and freed up nearly $5 million for the next three years in the aggregate.

Poile now has the cap (and budget) room to add key pieces up front if the right move presents itself – not to mention the flexibility to resign his newly-acquired defenseman if he proves to be a good fit. Del Zotto is a restricted free agent in the coming summer. He is apt to want something north of his current $2.5 million. However, Poile holds measurable leverage given that Del Zotto is coming off a lackluster first half and the Predators hold a right to match any other offer.

Taken together, the Hendricks/Klein transactions created significant cap space for 2014-15 and beyond. A not so subtle signal that other moves and/or signings are to come? Think so.

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 6:01 PM


Today from Philly, Nashville Predators radio play-by-play tandem of Stu Grimson and Willy Daunic discuss yesterday's trade for Devan Dubnyk.

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.15.2013 / 11:12 AM

The Predators celebrate 15 years of hockey during the 2013-14 season. Having played in the early years (2001-2003), an anniversary like that gives you cause to reflect. The one thing about this game though; it’s not so much the game itself as it is the guys you play with that sticks with you.

So, in this series, I am highlighting a few of the Preds I played with. They are chosen not so much for their abilities on the ice as they are for their personality off it. Said another way. Chosen not so much for their character but more for the fact that they were characters. See the difference?

Reid Simpson: “Simmer” and I were teammates but we never played together. I was injured from December of 2001 on and it was unclear that I would return to action. Therefore, David Poile went out and acquired Reid; he was a great pro, he had been around and he knew his role well - lead and be a physical presence.

The one wrinkle to Simmer joining the group was the fight he and I had the previous year while he was a member of the Blues and I was playing with the Kings. Watch here

If you didn’t understand hockey players you would have projected that Simmer and I on the same team would have been a distraction to the rest of the team. Not so. Reason being, Simmer let the air out of the situation very early on.

I believe it was his first day as a Predator when Simmer declared “Did you guys know Stu and I fought last year … yea, true story, I came in third place!!!”

What a beauty.

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 10.06.2013 / 6:10 PM

The Predators celebrate 15 years of hockey during the 2013-14 season. Having played in the early years (2001-2003), an anniversary like that gives you cause to reflect. The one thing about this game though; it’s not so much the game itself as it is the guys you play with that sticks with you. 

So, in this series, I am highlighting a few of the Predators I played with. They are chosen not so much for their abilities on the ice as they are for their personality off it. Not so much for their character but more for the fact that they were characters. See the difference?

Scott Walker. “Walks” was a beauty. At least once a week, Bill Houlder and I would have a conversation where one of us was saying “you won’t believe what he just did.”

Walker and I were both out of the lineup with concussions in January of 2002. So when the team was out of town he and I would hang out. One night I had him over for dinner and we decided to take in a movie after. We took two cars from my place because we would go separate directions after the movie was over. Him to his house and me to mine.

Driving to the theater from my place, I took the back roads through Williamson County. He’d never been this route before but it was no big deal because he was following me in his vehicle.

We see our movie at Green Hills Mall. And as we get to the theater parking lot, I say goodnight. Scott responds “well, where you goin’?’” I said “it’s 11:30, I’m going home.”

Walker says “well, that’s just great, but how do I get home?” “Walks” I said, “you’ve been to this theater dozens of times. Just drive home.”

“But I don’t know that way we came” replies Walker. I said “Scott, you know where we are right?” “Yes,” he says. “You know where your house is right?” “Well, yeah but….” “Well, just drive from here to your house like you would normally. You don’t need to drive the route we took to get here.”

I know what you’re thinking. Wasn’t he displaying symptoms of post concussion syndrome? Uh, no. That’s Walks. Again, a real beauty.

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 1:57 PM

The Predators will celebrate 15 years of hockey during the 2013-14 season. Having toiled in the organization as a player in the formative years (2001-2003), an anniversary like that gives you cause to reflect. Having said that, the one thing about this game …. it’s not so much the game itself as it is the people you meet while playing it that sticks with you.

In the coming weeks, I intend to highlight a few players I played with while a Predator. They are chosen not so much for their abilities on the ice as they are for their personality off it. Not so much for their character but more for the fact that they were characters. See the difference?

Jere Karalahti. It’s not uncommon for a manager to discuss a potential transaction with a current player on his roster before he pulls the trigger. That was the case in 2002 when David Poile called me in to an operations meetingto get my opinion on Jere Karalahti – a Los Angeles King at the time. The “Chief” and I played and roomed together in L.A the year before I came to Nashville. So David wanted to get my take on the big Finn.

David and the rest of the operations staff were focused on two things primarily. What did I think of his game and what kind of person was he? The answer to the first was fairly straightforward. Big, pretty physical and solid defensively;
he could help us.

The answer to the second question required a little more detail. You see, Jere had a hearty appetite for the part of the game that happened after the game was over. He looked like the front man for a metal band and he lived up to one specific part of that persona. He liked to go out … a lot … until very early in the morning. I told the staff that if we brought him in that we’d need to keep him on a short leash.

Long story short; lower Broadway became the Chief’s playground. We got him at the trade deadline that year and I don’t believe he lasted the rest of the year. He played all of 15 games before defecting back to the motherland. His challenges away from the game are well documented. Apparently, pro hockey in Finland is a little less structured than the NHL; a better fit for the Chief at the end of the day.

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 07.04.2013 / 5:15 PM

During our broadcast of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft party from Dave & Busters, Opry Mills, I put the following question to Predators GM David Poile. “Had you picked first overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, would you still have taken Seth Jones.” Without hesitation. “Yes, absolutely” said Poile. A candid appraisal of Jones’ abilities as a player.

In fact, the pundits were nearly unanimous in their assessment that Jones was the best player in the 2013 field. So that Poile and company were able to capture the No. 1 Player with the No. 4 Pick was no small coup. In any event, Seth Jones is Predators’ property. But look a little closer and this transaction has a significant impact in other areas where the club intends to improve.

Heading into the off-season, the Predators made it known they are in the market to get bigger, add offense and acquire a top four defenseman. It remains to be seen but, by selecting Jones, the Predators may have checked two of those three boxes.

If he is who they say he is, all 6-4 of Seth Jones should make an impact early in the 2013-14 season. Those that scout for a living state that he has a tremendous skill set and that he thinks the game far beyond his 18 years.

So if you’re Poile and you believe you just got better at the blue line, you can now turn your attention to the forward position. But consider this.

Before you acquire Jones, you’re looking to add a top four defenseman through free agency by signing someone like a Rob Scuderi of the LA Kings for instance. But that’s probably a four to five million dollar cap hit. Jones, on the other hand, will sign for the entry-level maximum of roughly $950,000.

Why is that significant? Poile just found approximately $4 million he never knew he had. And that could translate into a marked upgrade in terms of the type of forward you target in free agency. i.e. Daniel Briere rather than David Clarkson. Or perhaps the net savings allows the Predators to add two impact forwards rather than just one. Viktor Stalberg and Clarkson?

In any event, the acquisition is sure to have put the Predators organization in a much more aggressive posture heading into 2013 free agency. Interesting and exciting times ahead, no doubt.

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Monday, 06.24.2013 / 1:11 PM

Game Four was a wild departure from what we saw in Games One through Three. Reason being, these two teams learned a little something about their opponent over the course of those early games. And each was able to employ a different approach as they entered Game Four.

For Boston, there was a not so subtle emphasis on where to shoot on Corey Crawford. Crawford is beat to the glove on all five Boston goals in Game Four. I project a lot more of the same in Game Five. If you accept that Crawford is weak there; he’s probably not going to have a noticeably stronger glove hand by Saturday night, right? Furthermore, you just have to believe that Boston is in his head by now.

Chicago, on the other hand, has had virtually no space to operate inside the Bruins zone. Kane specifically, appeared to go to school on this. Notice on Chicago’s third goal how he moves the puck from low to high and, in turn, gets Boston scrambling. So much so that when the puck pops loose in the low slot, the Bruins have left the most dangerous player on the ice unchecked.

Chicago makes two other key adjustments. First, Seabrook, Keith and Oduya are frequently up in the offense. Gosh, even Roszival had two assists from the back end. Where this pays off is on a play like Seabrook’s OT winner. Initially, he jumps up into the play then pulls back. This creates enough separation between him and Jagr so that when the puck eventually transitions to Seabrook, he has ample time to eyeball his shot and tee it up.

Second, on Chicago’s fifth goal, scored by Sharp, Hossa’s quick release is the difference-maker and an obvious change in approach for the Hawks when with the man advantage. Hossa outlets to Keith and then he gets it right back. Hossa then uses a very compact quick release to get a shot off before the Bruins can adjust coverage. When the puck comes off Rask’s right pad, the home team is scrambling to pick up Sharp. Sharp has time to pull the rebound out of his own feet and chip it past Rask.

“Familiarity breeds contempt” may have been written for playoff hockey. However, in the case of the Bruins and Blackhawks, this enhanced knowledge of the other team’s tendencies is making for more and more entertaining hockey. If the last one is any indication, Game Five ought to be a dandy!

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 06.20.2013 / 5:24 PM

Game Four was not do or die for Chicago … it just felt that way going into it. And judging by the way the first five and a half minutes were played, the visiting team knew they simply could not get behind 3-1 in this series. This was a wild one by contrast to the series’ previous three games.

Before this one is seven minutes old, Chicago is on the board. Michal Handzus demonstrates why it pays to go to the net. A great little area pass from Brandon Saad; he lays it out in front of Handzus who chips it deftly past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask as he barrels toward the blue paint. 1-0 Chicago. And a shorty to boot. Big start for the Hawks.

But if there’s one thing you can say about both these teams; they are resilient. Later that same period Boston bounces back. On a set penalty kill play in the Chicago zone, Handzus wins the draw back and out the weak side to Saad as the low outlet. Saad fails to ice it in the first instance and then, as the play transitions back to the mid-slot, he missteps again and Peverley grabs the loose puck and snaps it by Crawford glove side. Tied at ones.

Early in the second, an overdue Toews breaks the tie on a rare moment when Chicago is able to outman Boston in front of its own net. Toews enters and filters one back to the point where Rozsival is able to send it toward the net and Toews redirects it past Rask.

Shifts after goals are huge; whether for or against you. Kane and his Hawks seem mindful of the adage as Kane finally finds some quiet ice as he enters the Bruins zone. From there, he distributes the puck low first then high later which gets the Bruins scrambling. This creates some space and confusion not previously found in this end of the ice. Kane jumps down, collects a loose puck off Bickell’s play to the net and he bangs it past Rask.

And this is where it starts to get wild; these two teams are mostly trading goals from here on out.

Lucic is able to draw the Bruins back to within one but only to have Kruger notch another insurance marker for Chicago. A nice little feed from Frolik and a strong move to the far post by Kruger. Rask stays with him and gets a pad on it. But credit Kruger for sticking with it; he’s able to wait out Rask and tuck it behind the Boston netminder.

The Bruins catch another break as Bergeron tracks one off the end wall as it bounces back over to the net front. 4-3 Chicago.

Early in the third, Bergeron scores again as he and Jaromir Jagr work it down low in the Chicago zone. Now we’re even again and does it get interesting from here.

A rare power play goal near the mid-point of the third period puts Chicago ahead again. Hossa, while playing the point, releases a quick little shot from off his weak side. Not a heavy shot but Hossa’s compact release is the key to getting it through. In prior games, Boston shot blockers are dropping in front of this play and snuffing out the chance before it develops. Sharp collects the rebound and sends it past a sprawling Rask.

Would you believe this though? Less that a minute later, Boston is back to even on a stiff blast from the point by Boychuk. Boychuck does a great job of eating up the open ice in front of him and improving his angle before he blasts it by Crawford glove side. Tied again with less than 8:00 remaining.

Yep, you guessed it. Overtime again.

Chances are fairly rare during overtime until Seabrook grabs the puck off a blocked shot and takes it back high inside Bruins territory. He launches one far side from well out through a good bit of traffic and beats Rask far side to end it.

This series has provided a little something for everyone as Game Four closes out. Tight, grinding, defensive hockey and now, plenty of wide-open high scoring action. Looking back, I suspect both clubs learned a little something about their opponent on this night. First, did you count how often the Bruins shot glove hand on Crawford?

Second, Chicago is finding ways to penetrate in the Bruins end where they’ve almost been suffocated in games one through three. The transition from high to low (or vice versa) inside the Bruins zone is giving Boston fits. Also, the Chicago defenders were much more active on the offensive side of the puck in this one; that paid off big. (see Seabrook on the OT winner) And lastly, Hossa proves it doesn’t have to be a bomb from the point to be effective; it just needs to be quick so that it gets through.

We’re down to a best of three for all the marbles. Game Five back in Chicago on Saturday will be electric. These two teams have proven that they are as closely matched as any two we’ve seen in any recent Cup final.

See you around the rink.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 06.20.2013 / 2:09 PM

Game Four was not do or die for Chicago … it just felt that way going into it. And judging by the way the first five and a half minutes were played, the visiting team knew they simply could not get behind 3-1 in this series. This was a wild one by contrast to the series’ previous three games.

Before this one is seven minutes old, Chicago is on the board. Michal Handzus demonstrates why it pays to go to the net. A great little area pass from Brandon Saad; he lays it out in front of Handzus who chips it deftly past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask as he barrels toward the blue paint. 1-0 Chicago. And a shorty to boot. Big start for the Hawks.

But if there’s one thing you can say about both these teams; they are resilient. Later that same period Boston bounces back. On a set penalty kill play in the Chicago zone, Handzus wins the draw back and out the weak side to Saad as the low outlet. Saad fails to ice it in the first instance and then, as the play transitions back to the mid-slot, he missteps again and Peverley grabs the loose puck and snaps it by Crawford glove side. Tied at ones.

Early in the second, an overdue Toews breaks the tie on a rare moment when Chicago is able to outman Boston in front of its own net. Toews enters and filters one back to the point where Rozsival is able to send it toward the net and Toews redirects it past Rask.

Shifts after goals are huge; whether for or against you. Kane and his Hawks seem mindful of the adage as Kane finally finds some quiet ice as he enters the Bruins zone. From there, he distributes the puck low first then high later which gets the Bruins scrambling. This creates some space and confusion not previously found in this end of the ice. Kane jumps down, collects a loose puck off Bickell’s play to the net and he bangs it past Rask.

And this is where it starts to get wild; these two teams are mostly trading goals from here on out.

Lucic is able to draw the Bruins back to within one but only to have Kruger notch another insurance marker for Chicago. A nice little feed from Frolik and a strong move to the far post by Kruger. Rask stays with him and gets a pad on it. But credit Kruger for sticking with it; he’s able to wait out Rask and tuck it behind the Boston netminder.

The Bruins catch another break as Bergeron tracks one off the end wall as it bounces back over to the net front. 4-3 Chicago.

Early in the third, Bergeron scores again as he and Jaromir Jagr work it down low in the Chicago zone. Now we’re even again and does it get interesting from here.

A rare power play goal near the mid-point of the third period puts Chicago ahead again. Hossa, while playing the point, releases a quick little shot from off his weak side. Not a heavy shot but Hossa’s compact release is the key to getting it through. In prior games, Boston shot blockers are dropping in front of this play and snuffing out the chance before it develops. Sharp collects the rebound and sends it past a sprawling Rask.

Would you believe this though? Less that a minute later, Boston is back to even on a stiff blast from the point by Boychuk. Boychuck does a great job of eating up the open ice in front of him and improving his angle before he blasts it by Crawford glove side. Tied again with less than 8:00 remaining.

Yep, you guessed it. Overtime again.

Chances are fairly rare during overtime until Seabrook grabs the puck off a blocked shot and takes it back high inside Bruins territory. He launches one far side from well out through a good bit of traffic and beats Rask far side to end it.

This series has provided a little something for everyone as Game Four closes out. Tight, grinding, defensive hockey and now, plenty of wide-open high scoring action. Looking back, I suspect both clubs learned a little something about their opponent on this night. First, did you count how often the Bruins shot glove hand on Crawford?

Second, Chicago is finding ways to penetrate in the Bruins end where they’ve almost been suffocated in games one through three. The transition from high to low (or vice versa) inside the Bruins zone is giving Boston fits. Also, the Chicago defenders were much more active on the offensive side of the puck in this one; that paid off big. (see Seabrook on the OT winner) And lastly, Hossa proves it doesn’t have to be a bomb from the point to be effective; it just needs to be quick so that it gets through.

We’re down to a best of three for all the marbles. Game Five back in Chicago on Saturday will be electric. These two teams have proven that they are as closely matched as any two we’ve seen in any recent Cup final.

See you around the rink.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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