One-on-One with David Poile
Following a busy week for the Predators both on and off the ice, NashvillePredators.com met up with team President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile. Poile talked about the importance of re-signing J.P. Dumont and Jordin Tootoo, where the team stands heading into the trade deadline, and the team's priorities moving though to the off-season.
NashvillePredators.com: How important was the Dumont contract?
David Poile: JP is unquestionably one of our best players and one of our best offensive players. He's an assistant captain and one of our leaders. I think it was really important to sign JP in many aspects. First and foremost is to keep in tact the foundation of solid younger and veteran players that we currently have. I think this is a clear sign that what took place last summer, in terms of us having an inability to sign our unrestricted free agents, is a thing of the past. We feel that our team is setting up really well for the second half of the season. The signings of J.P. Dumont, along with David Legwand (in December) and Jordin Tootoo; we're well on the way to setting the table for a very competitive team for the next few years.
NP.com: What does Jordin Tootoo mean to this franchise?
DP: Jordin's been a player that we drafted as an 18-year old that on draft day. Jordin's a player that in Junior hockey was an energy player known more for his toughness. In his progression since he was drafted, Jordin has turned himself into a more complete player. He appears to be getting better each and every year. His calling card is his great speed that ends usually with body contact, but he's now added better puck handling skills, a booming shot, and he's starting to put points and score goals. A guy that played in his first couple of years, four or five minutes a game is now playing over 10 minutes a game. A player that was thought to be only a fourth line player at best, is now capable of playing on the third line or higher.
NP.com: Did the events around the league last summer have any effect on your plan of attack for this coming off-season?
|Dumont Re-Signs (Feb. 1)
Tootoo Re-Signs (Jan. 31)
Legwand Re-Signs (Dec. 7)
Poile on Legwand Signing
Trotz on Legwand Signing
NP.com: With Dumont, Legwand, and Tootoo now re-signed, what is your next priority?
DP: The goal is to sign our restricted free agents. We're always in continual contact with the players' agents. On defense we have Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, Ville Koistinen, and at forward we have Martin Erat. Those are players that we will sign at the appropriate time, whether it is now or more likely in the off-season. I'm confident that we will get then signed.
NP.com: With the All-Star Game just completed, the next big league "event" is the trade deadline. How are the Predators approaching the deadline?
DP: This time of year, you're talking to several GM's every day. It's exciting leading up to the deadline. Seems like this time of year you find out more about everybody's team and what they're willing to trade and what they're not willing to trade. The tightness of the races right now would seem to indicate that the amount of trades would be less than in most years. Though for whatever reason, the trade deadline seems to bring the best out of every manager in terms of creativity. As far as the Predators are concerned, I like the path that we are taking, signing our own players. I think with all the turnover we had last summer, this team is really just starting to evolve as a group, starting to believe in each other, starting to trust in each other. Right now we are playing the best hockey that we've played all year long.
NP.com: Does this week's signings effect how you approach the trade deadline?
DP: These are players that are with us now and we want them to be part of our future. If JP was not signed, there would have been a lot of interest from a lot of teams on speculation that we would have wanted to get something for him rather than risk losing him for nothing through free agency. So, by signing him we've stopped all those rumors; it probably solidifies our team moving forward and takes one less possible distraction of rumors out of the way, making it easier for JP and the team can concentrate on getting into the playoffs.
NP.com: Do the Predators have an advantage heading into the trade deadline due to the team's salary cap room?
DP: I'm not looking at it from a financial standpoint. We're in good shape in that we have the ability and the latitude to do things because we have cap space. But what I'm really looking at is building this team into the best that we can so that we can be competitive not only for one year, but for several years. I think with all the changes that we had from last year's team to this year's team, it's taken some time for players to get used to their new role, their new opportunity that they were given, and for the players to get to know each other and get to play well with each other. Now we've got that trust and we're playing at a high level. I don't feel right now like I want to be in a position to give up a first round pick or a younger player. If anything I'd like to add to that so we can build up some depth in our minor league system and our team here.
NP.com: Does the new CBA make it tougher to build and maintain a high level of team chemistry?
DP: No. You need lots of different guys to put together a team and all of those guys are priced differently. So I don't think there's any reason why you can't put together a successful team in today's age. You don't need 20 players that are the same; you need big guys, small guys, scorers, checkers. You have to give your personnel roles and every player has to focus and take care of his role. They have to be able to play for each other. And that's where chemistry is so important in the game of hockey, because there's skill, there's the physical part, everybody has a different role on the team. That's the trick under this new salary cap system, balancing your contracts within your budget. There are different age categories of players that determine when contracts expire whether the player would become a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent. There's a lot of things that you can't control, so you have to make decision probably a little earlier than you used to, in terms of offering them contracts or signing them for more of a long-term situation. The player and club are looking for the same thing, good value. Some times it takes you together in the direction of a longer-term contract, some times you're together in a shorter-term contract. To me, I can see how it can work for both the club and the player. It's really just a case-by-case situation. There are a lot of things that go into decision making that eventually decides what your roster is going to look like.