A Look To 2012

Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 3:54 PM
By Tom Callahan - Nashville Predators / Tom Callahan's 2011-12 Season Blog
The calendar is set to flip to a whole new set of digits as we cross the threshold into 2012 and set our sights on the coming playoffs. Yes, there is much that will lie ahead to resolve in the next few months.

As I see it, there are a few things on the horizon for the Predators that are of utmost importance. The first will be the Ryan Suter situation and how that plays out. First of all I’m going on record as saying that I would love to see Ryan in Nashville for a long time to come much like all of you. I think it’s a rare treat seeing him, Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne display such amazing defensive credentials night in and night out. These are players we will be talking about for years to come.

That said, part of the issue will be the most obvious: will Suter stay, or will he go? While you cue up your Clash records, allow me to toss out a few possibilities:

He signs. End of story.

He doesn’t (want to or can’t or whatever) sign – it gets interesting.

Depending on when that decision might be made, it could make Nashville serious players at the trade deadline one way or the other. If he’s definitely staying and signed, then the Predators have more of an understanding what the budget would be to make a move at that point if they choose to do so. If not, it makes things more difficult. How much do you reserve and for how long? How much do you think changes with the new CBA? What can you realistically afford to spend? And on top of all that – what do you want to add and is it available at a decent price?

I can’t imagine having to stare down all these factors come deadline day, but know that all of that plus more goes into the thinking. Fortunately for Nashville Pekka Rinne has already agreed to sign on long-term. Having a world-class goaltender as your backstop for the next seven years is definitely reassuring. He can make anyone look better with bail-out saves that make Fannie and Freddie jealous. That’s also something to consider as a player when looking around.

Oh, and cost of living/income tax in Tennessee is pretty good too.

Also part of the equation to be solved moving forward is how well are the rookies and younger players developing? What do they need to spur further growth and do we really feel we have the right mix to continue to improve next season? It will be interesting to see what direction the team goes over the next few years, as among the forwards only David Legwand and Martin Erat are signed beyond next ('12-13) season. Otherwise everyone is up whether RFA or UFA. Defensively it’s much the same, with no one signed beyond '12-13 whether RFA or UFA, and only Kevin Klein and Roman Josi inked to that season. If you were going to make any sort of transition, the opportunity is certainly there. It also means if you were looking to trade anyone, you have a definite list of guys who could stay or go near-term, and that can be attractive to teams looking to move a longer, heavier contract.

Also to be sorted for the Predators moving forward will be players who are currently playing well in Milwaukee and auditioning well for the big time. Ryan Thang, Ryan Flynn, Ryan Ellis (notice a theme here?), Chris Mueller (*whew*), Gabriel Bourque, Taylor Beck, Juuso Puustinen, Michael Latta, Kyle Wilson, Jeremy Smith… you get the idea. There’s a lot of quality talent there, now you just have to ferret out who can play at the NHL level moving forward. These are all assets. Some can be useful in trade talks, again for teams looking to unload a contract heavy player and basically dump salary and buy time in return. Teams against the cap are likely to look at your prospects and draft picks more readily.

Beyond that things will sort themselves out as far as which players rise to the top during this season both in Nashville and Milwaukee, but once again come training camp next year everyone will get a chance to make a dent in camp and be this year’s surprise Predators story. We always seem to have one – who will it be next year?

In the meantime I hope that everyone out there enjoys a safe and happy holiday season no matter what you’re celebrating or where you’re celebrating. Enjoy a couple of days off after the Dallas game and then be ready to rock the house for Detroit on Monday night!

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

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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


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
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43


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