Preds Prowl: Summer 2010

Friday, 08.27.2010 / 6:55 PM / Features
By Tom Callahan  - Nashville Predators
X
Share with your Friends


Preds Prowl: Summer 2010
Greetings Predators Fans! I would like to welcome you all to what will be come a pretty regular blog here on NashvillePredators.com as I chronicle the comings and goings of your Predators team.

Preds Prowl Archives
2009-10 Season
2008-09 Season
I’m sure from time to time not only will you get an entertaining story from the road, but a few select beauties plucked from my own personal hockey past, dating back to the 1999-00 season when I started in the Western Professional Hockey League. When you look back over your shoulder at five teams, four leagues, and a million miles of memories, there’s bound to be a few that stand out.

So with that, I’m looking forward to keeping you all in the loop during the season, and sharing the smiles along the way. Keep your browser pointed here all season long!

Hey fans – join me on Twitter at twitter.com/predsradio. News, notes, what’s new in Preds land – as soon as it happens!

Tom Callahan
Predators Radio Voice


July: 13
August: 3 | 5 | 10 | 13 | 22 | 24 | 26


August 26, 2010
It hasn’t been the most exciting off-season in NHL history unless you're Ilya Kovalchuk – then it’s just been annoying. At this point there are plenty of free agents out there, but a few teams have significant possible cash flow tied up in seeing what will happen in a storyline that has quite frankly grown old.

But keep this in mind in a year or two even if you’re tired of it now. The NHL has drawn a line in the sand that will be important to remember when the CBA comes due once more. Basically the league said ok, ok, ok, sorta Luongo/Pronger/Hossa, and NO! Kovalchuk. If you think that sounds odd, it really just appears that the league waited until one contract came along that was so blatantly in violation of the spirit of the cap that they could pounce. The aforementioned Luongo (et al) contracts were just close enough to possibly be played out. But when Kovie’s cap hit got lowered from $8M to $6M due to the final few years of his contract at minimum wage… well, that’s when the league decided to say something.

Getting the backing of the arbitrator surprised many, but now the NHL can be emboldened to say yes, we’re going to look at more contracts now. And so now the league may come back with this decision to use as a benchmark for why the cap needs whatever adjustments they’ll propose. Closing loopholes, etc.

And what about the players union? Don Fehr’s name isn’t bandied about as much as earlier this summer to head up the effort, with the love affair seeming to have cooled a bit. So it leaves the direction of the NHLPA in question for the immediate future, but long term do they have enough time to get the house in order for a serious round of bargaining in a few years?

From the fan and team employee perspective, I just want them to play. I don’t want a repeat of the lockout, because I remember watching Gary Bettman step to the podium and cancel the 2004-05 season. I remember thinking that the game would suffer, and maybe it has a bit. But some good came out of it. Some lessons… hopefully the primary one being don’t do it again! When you rebound from something like a lockout and gain momentum in ticket sales and overall support you have to keep it going. The game of hockey needs to keep putting one skate in front of the other – so boys, get it together now! Figure out some bullet points, hammer it out, and go from there.

Just remember Ilya’s saga from this summer. We’ll hear about it again sooner than we think.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.



August 24, 2010
When you bring your 30-goal guy back, even when he was just a restricted free agent, it’s definitely a sign of good things. While no one really thought a team would fire out an offer sheet (to anyone really this summer) it’s still tough going to get a contract signed. Patric Hornqvist has accepted a three-year deal with the Preds in a move that makes the core of the club even more solid.

Sure, he lead the team in goals his first full NHL campaign after posting just two the previous year in limited action. At the time he was sent down in 2008-09, Barry Trotz gave an assessment of Hornqvist that said perhaps he didn’t have quite enough of a handle on what it took to stick yet. So Hornqvist went back home in the off-season and came back much improved, not only making the team out of camp but finding a pretty consistent scoring touch not too long thereafter. Yes, he struggled in the early portion of the season, but overcame it in fine fashion.

Now he’ll be counted on not only for more goals, but to serve as an example for the prospects coming up behind him. Some of those prospects may push for a job this year, some in future years. The Predators have invested in Hornqvist for three years and have a very good situation with forwards like Erat, Legwand, Wilson, and more tied up for at least two years if not more. It will be interesting to see what this group does with the mantle passed from Jason Arnott and some of the now-departed players.

At the end of the day, Nashville looks pretty good heading into training camp. Yes, there’s going to be positional battles, and with no clear-cut second goaltender that may be the only place the current roster really changes before September 17. I’m looking forward to the excitement that will surely be a part of camp this year – because this is a season in which the Predators can really sneak up on people and finally find parity in a difficult division. Look out Central!

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.



August 22, 2010
A few folks have pointed out to me that apparently it’s time for a new blog. Okay, I get it. I’ve been ruminating on some topics anyway, but the timing is perfect to go over the recent camp the NHL staged to look at rule and game change possibilities.

The mini-camp, which featured some NHL prospects playing games with modified sets of rules and in some cases game gear, was staged to have a physical look at ideas people have thrown out there to better the game. While I’m not going to review all of them, I’ll tell you it contained everything from a modified icing rule to shallower nets (to allow more room behind the cage), nets with clear tops or smaller mesh, nets with red mesh, and a host of other things including one ref sitting above the playing surface.

Now, don’t panic. Any rule changes still have to be reviewed and approved, and in some cases this was simply an exercise in “why not?”. But there are some ideas there I like, and a few I’ll toss out on my own.

Points
More and more I’m becoming a proponent of three-point games. Or at least an extra point for wins in regulation. I’d be okay with 3-2-1 or 2-1-0. Hey, this is how we decide our games, shootout or OT. If you lose, you don’t get a point. Frustrating for the losing team since we’re all accustomed to that single point for getting past regulation, but hey, if we declare a winner, we declare a tie-er? Hmmm… either way, I’m okay with three for regulation, two for OT or a SO, and one for a tie. Or how about this? Three for a win, two for OT, one for a SO, and nothing for losing? Want teams to press more in OT? Want fewer games to end in shootouts? Let’s do this right! I think I’ve just come up with my own favorite points system. That’s my version of the 3-2-1. I’m sticking with it.

Gear/Equipment
It’s tough for me to look at Pekka Rinne (6-5) and Anders Lindback (6-6) and tell them they can only wear 38” pads. They’re tall – it’s not their fault! Let them wear 40” pads if it keeps them from getting kneecapped in the butterfly position. But on the other hand, Darren Pang shouldn’t wear 40” pads. I actually had a goalie on one of my minor league teams who wore either 40s or 42s but was only 6-2. Yes, he had long legs and used the pads to close the five-hole, but he also ended up with groin problems because it caused him to skate unnaturally and move awkwardly at times. So I favor the “custom” or “form” fit possibility for goalies. Don’t hurt guys who are just tall or wide naturally, but let’s not allow the Garth Snow lacrosse shoulder pads. Common sense here really.

Shallower nets? Hey, if they keep pucks in, that’s fine with me. More room behind the net might work out well, and I’d be interested to see that happen. If you can convince me thinner mesh works without ripping or causing undue stoppages, I’m all for that too. Red mesh? Probably not going to be okay with that, because then the Habs, Hawks, Wings and other red teams will just have goalies wear red pads. Everyone can wear white so at least that’s a matter of choice. Peks would look strange in red, but I’d lobby for him to wear it if that was the case. You want to change the mesh? Make it lime green. But I’m still not on board.

Let players curve the stick any way they want. It’s not the advantage it once was, and each player should be able to do what he wants. I’m fine with that – although we would no longer have amusing stories about guys like Petr Klima scoring an overtime winner and immediately breaking his stick! Right Crispy?

Procedures
I’m all for no-touch icing, but if you still want the battle, go with the modified system in place in the USHL that calls the race at the faceoff dot. It will definitely reduce the number of heavy impact injuries on touch-up races to the boards. Any change that makes things safer and keeps our players healthy I’m for.

Faceoffs are interesting. Do you let the other team control who comes in for a draw? Back the offending center up a foot? Start with the puck on the ice and a whistle blow? Probably not in my book. Maybe if you back an offender up a foot it might encourage less “cheating”, but let’s be honest – that’s how you get an edge in faceoffs. They’re good battles, and timing, tricks of the trade, etc. is what makes a good centerman. I’m okay with things how they are.

I don’t mind the idea that a team with a pending penalty against has to not only touch but also clear the puck from the zone. And a player having to serve the full two minutes is also good with me – reverting back to the pre-1950s NHL style.

I’m a fan of the long change in OT, and can’t understand why teams don’t switch ends anyway. It’s the fourth period on some scoreboards, so switch ends!

Kill the trapezoid, please. It’s not called much anyway. Let the goalie handle the puck.

Hand pass legalization in any zone? Not sure where I stand there, but a large part of me just says why not? If you don’t close your hand on the puck, that is. Keep the play going. Fewer whistles.

Five player shootout – nah, keep it at three. We did five players in the minors. I like three better just because it ends faster. Usually.

Other Stuff
Refs above the ice? Yes, they tried that, with a guy in a platform up over the rink. But this will probably die because there’s no contact with the coaches/players for that ref and it also blocks the fan view. That alone will kill it.

I would not like to see offsides punished with a faceoff back in the defensive zone or a lack of player change. There were far too many blown offsides calls last year (both for and against) to want to make this a factor for me. It’s bad enough when it kills a rush improperly let alone punishing a team for it. I vote no.

Please leave the nets alone. 6x4 is fine right now.

Four on four in OT is fine, maybe down to three, but not two. What happens if you have a penalty? I’m good with four-on-four. And no extension of OT, five minutes is plenty.

If you really want power play efficiency to go up, keep icing in for penalty kills. But at what point do you get so blatantly offensive-minded you stop rewarding good defensive play, hustle, and grit? PK guys are always gassed when they come off as it is. Don’t take this away from them, let the defense at least feel like it has a chance.

Conclusion
I’m sure you all have suggestions. But let’s say there’s only one change you can implement, and do it right away – what do you pick? Share your thoughts here. I’m saying no-touch icing goes in first.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.



August 13, 2010
With the announcement that there will be not one, but two new faces at the top of the organization this fall, Predators Chairman Tom Ciggaran continues to make good on his promise to move this team in a positive direction.

I can remember sitting in the company meeting after it was announced that Tom (he prefers that, not Mr. Ciggaran) would be taking over as Predators Chairman from David Freeman. There was an invitation for questions from the crowd, and I (along with a few others) asked whatever came to mind. Not only was he up front about answering questions, but clearly outlined franchise and arena goals. Those goals were to win a Stanley Cup for the team, and to make Bridgestone Arena the best entertainment and sports venue in the country. He might have even said the world, but I'll aim just for our hemisphere.

With the hiring of Jeff Cogan as CEO and Sean Henry as President and COO, the Preds have brought on board two Stanley Cup winners with a vast amount of pro sports and non-traditional market savvy. It always sounds funny when you talk about being a “non-traditional” market, but believe me, having worked for five years in those so-called markets before coming to Nashville was a leg up. I had genuine and realistic expectations about how the game would work here, could be sold here, and could be related to fans old and new alike. I feel like with Cogan and Henry's backgrounds, they will be able to bring that same understanding and familiarity into play – to the Predators' and Bridgestone Arena's great advantage.

Cogan has said that he sells tickets, that's his main thing. In an interview with Pete Weber, he talked about many possibilities for the franchise but followed that up with “nothing starts until the building is full.” To me, that's a focus and determination to sell out this building and increase the fans. Check out the interviews here with both Cogan and Henry, they are very good and fairly brief.

Henry is going to help Bridgestone Arena towards its goal of being that major entertainment venue with his track record of transforming Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum into one of the busiest in the United States while also implementing several upgrades and improvements to the building itself. With his experience bringing in top flight entertainment acts along with having a real knack for understanding what makes a building great, he will help serve those lofty goals established at that staff meeting many months ago.

So take heart Preds fans. The more I read about these two guys the better it sounds.



August 10, 2010
Just some musings on the division while wondering whatever happened to Mark Mowers…

Predators
We are at a point where if there is one more piece to add, it might be a goaltender. However it seems more and more likely that the Predators will go to camp with what is currently on the table at all positions (and RFAs back in tow). I could see an exception being made if someone exceptional is available in net for a very reasonable price – and that’s not as far-flung of a suggestion as you may think.

Blackhawks
The Hawks wanted to win Lord Stanley’s mug, and they did. And now they’re paying for it dearly. After having to jettison many players over salary cap concerns, it looks like the Hawks aren’t done yet. Walking away from Antti Niemi was just the latest chapter in a saga that has seen Chicago go from being one of the deepest teams in the league to one of the most in peril if injuries strike. But wait, there’s more… this team figures to not quite be under the cap just yet since they have more players to sign for the big club. Announcing they have reached terms with guys who might ordinarily be targeted for Rockford, like Jassen Cullimore and Evan Brophy (and now-former Pred Hugh Jessiman) you wonder if having only $900k average cap hit left to dole out for 8-9 remaining position players could warrant even more player movement in the near future. That offer sheet to Hjalmarsson from San Jose looms very large right now for cap implications.

Red Wings
Detroit’s dominoes are falling into place. After agreeing with Mike Modano on a one-year deal, the Wings can finish the puzzle for this season. Darren Helm’s new contract was also announced last week (2 years, $1.825M), so you can expect to see more coming down the line as the Wings solidify the roster for camp. While they will be close to the cap, the Wings have enough wiggle room that they can make some moves if need be. The real question will be around the goaltending tandem of Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood, but the Wings aren’t moving off that pair. Barring injuries, the Wings should again be challenging the top.

Blues
St. Louis has made some moves this off-season, the biggest being the Jaroslav Halak deal that the team’s fans and management hope is the answer to a goaltending carousel that’s been in effect since Cujo left. Will Halak be the man to stick around for a while? Chris Mason appeared to be set as “the guy” heading into the off-season, but that all changed with Halak. Mason ended up in Atlanta. Before Mason, Blues fans needed a program to keep up with who was wearing the mask due to movement and injuries. Last year was the first time since 2000-01 that the Blues have used only two goalies in a season, and only twice in that span have they used only three. In case you were wondering, the high was seven in 2002-03.
St. Louis also brought Erik Johnson back under contract recently and really isn’t up against the cap with about $14.5M in space just dangling out there. Mind you, that’s with 22 guys signed right now. I’m not convinced the Blues are a much different team from last year but the departures of Tkachuk and Kariya obviously give them a little jangle in the pockets if they so choose to use it.

Blue Jackets
What an interesting off-season for Columbus. Stop laughing, I mean that! After being turned down by an AHL coach looking for his first NHL gig (which in fairness he was probably already waiting to hear on Tampa Bay, but to just turn them down? Not “give me a week to think about it” but just say no? Wow…) and seeing the team make waves by signing… uh… give me a second here… hmmm. Well, they did claim Ethan Moreau off waivers, who probably began having second thoughts about Edmonton after that. Hey, at least there’s a Tim Horton’s there Ethan… good coffee and donuts. It’s right across from the arena. You have to wish Scott Arniel luck in his first go-round as an NHL bench boss, because the Blue Jackets stood absolutely pat on a team that garnered 79 points last year and was 14th in the West. Cap room isn’t a big deal, there’s still $6M and change available, but don’t you feel like they should get more out of that investment? Maybe David Poile really has us all spoiled with spending so little and achieving so much.

At the end of the day, the team that still has hoops to jump through is Chicago. Detroit has a few offers to make, and the rest of the division might tinker but odds are won’t change a great deal. Prepare yourself Preds fans, this is going to be a fun training camp experience! Battles will be intense, and competition at every turn should ready the team well for opening night. Are we there yet?

Keep your stick on the ice.



August 5, 2010
Here’s something that doesn’t surprise me: the current position of goaltenders in the NHL. Evegeny Nabokov saw the Cyrillic on the wall and took off for a KHL payday – and if that’s your priority, this is not your year to play in the NHL as a goalie. For now, those big money contracts are gone and with a glut of talent out there, expect salaries for anyone but perhaps the top five netminders to continue trending downward.

In an odd way, goalies are a victim of the success of their style and position. Many play a similar style with few variations, and that style is very effective. What has happened as a result is you can plug in a capable stopper (or as many are looked at nowadays, blocker) of the puck and build around him. Superstar goaltenders are going to be fewer and farther between, just like the unorthodox styles that used to make goalies unique – and spectacular – to watch.

Patric Roy’s butterfly wasn’t a new invention when he used it, but it wasn’t employed too successfully by many since Glenn Hall (who is credited with really spawning the movement). Dominic Hasek’s style simply can’t be categorized, but was amazing to watch. Kirk McLean’s classic stand-up style, Mike Richter’s acrobatics, and even the stick-wielding antics of Ron Hextall and Billy Smith are now supplanted by guys who go down, pads out flat, chest square, arms tucked, and block the puck. Perhaps they smother it, perhaps they deflect it. Modern defensemen swoop in to take it away.

Looking at who’s left out there to inspire goaltenders, you have to start with Marty Brodeur. He’s acrobatic, still wears small pads, and is a very active and reflexive goalie. He’s a pleasure to watch because it’s still a skill with him. Tim Thomas is electrifying when he’s on because he throws whatever is free at the shot to stop it – reminding me just a little bit of Hasek. And one of the Finnish old guard goalies, Mikka Kiprusoff, who just seems to be able to get in front of pucks coming from anywhere when he’s on. I’ll throw Ryan Miller in the mix here because he seems to have his own style down pat and borrows a bit from the butterfly ideal. But let me surprise you with one: Pekka Rinne.

Pekka is pretty acrobatic for a big guy, and has a sense of how to get his long limbs in front of pucks. He plays more of what is now a traditional “blocking” style but breaks the mold here and there, using his size and anticipation to shut down back-door plays and shootout attempts. I think we’re having the pleasure of watching a goaltender who could be one of the most dominant in the league develop right here in front of our eyes, night after night.

When Chicago walked away from Antti Niemi’s award for $2.75M and signed Marty Turco for less than half, never has it been more clear that teams with cap problems (and even those that don’t) are clearly saying they can win with good goaltending, but don’t need great. Also, you’re seeing that teams are just not going to shell out the crazy contracts we’ve seen recently for guys. If you’re Vancouver, do you wish you waited just a bit before blowing your next 13 years on Roberto Luongo? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But would you get the same performance out of Jose Theodore? Turco? Chris Mason (who went to Atlanta earlier this summer)? The Sharks are looking at Niemi for less than his award if he signs, but do you want to be part of a three-way battle for the throne with Antero Nittymaki and Tomas Greiss? It doesn’t sound appetizing, but there may not be much of a choice after Philly publicly stated they have no interest in Niemi. And again, figure on him making less than the $2.75M he was awarded in arbitration.

In all of this, let’s look back at the Preds. Do you take Niemi or anyone out there on the market at that price, or do you feel you can get a goaltender for much less and split time with Peks? I know I’m assuming that we go outside for a second goalie, but who would you bring in and at what terms? Figure that Turco has set the bar a little lower to go to Chicago. But tell me who you’d like to see, or what you’d spend to get them in a Preds uniform. Let the crease debate begin.



August 3, 2010
You know, as much as I’ve been working on breaking down our draft position the last few days, I keep drifting back to what the lines will look like for this year. I know, you’ve probably all drawn them out at least once to yourself and played coach/GM with what’s out there. I’m doing the same – having fun with assumptions and spinning the sphere of a perfect world to see how it can all end up.

Let’s look at the forwards first, and for the moment we will assume a few things: 1) That everyone is NHL-ready and 2) One-ways get more weight than two-ways. I know it doesn’t always work this way, but for the benefit of this exercise, here we go. Oh, and 3) Patric Hornqvist will be back in a Preds uniform this fall.

Centers: Matthew Lombardi, Marcel Goc, David Legwand, Cal O’Reilly
Left Wings: Sergei Kostitsyn, Steve Sullivan, J-P Dumont
Right Wings: Jordin Tootoo, Wade Belak, Joel Ward, Andreas Thuresson, Martin Erat, Patric Hornqvist
Combo guys: Colin Wilson C/LW, Nick Spaling C/LW, Jamie Lundmark C/RW, Jerred Smithson C/RW

First Line: Sullivan – Lombardi – Erat
Second Line: Kostitsyn – Wilson – Hornqvist
Third Line: Dumont – Legwand - Ward
Fourth Line: Tootoo – Goc – Smithson – Belak

In this scenario, I’m assuming Wilson plays center. This also puts Dumont on the left side (his forehand). Let’s switch Wilson to left wing and see what happens:
First Line: Sullivan – Lombardi – Erat
Second Line: Wilson – Legwand – Hornqvist
Third Line: Kostitsyn – O’Reilly – Dumont
Fourth Line: Tootoo – Goc – Smithson – Belak - Ward

Now let’s play around with some variables on the top two lines:
First Line: Sullivan – Goc – Erat
Second Line: Kostitsyn – Lombardi – Hornqvist
Third Line: Wilson – Legwand – Ward
Fourth Line: Tootoo – O’Reilly – Smithson – Belak – Dumont

First Line: Sullivan – Lombardi – Hornqvist
Second Line: Kostitsyn – Goc – Erat
Third Line: Wilson – Legwand – Dumont
Fourth Line: Tootoo – O’Reilly – Smithson – Belak – Ward

I feel like in moving everyone around these lines all have relative merits. I also feel that until someone proves otherwise in camp, you have to think Erat and Hornqvist are the top two right side guys, and Sullivan and Kostitsyn are penciled in for the top two left spots. Centers could go either way. If David Legwand continues his two-way specialization, then Marcel Goc and Cal O’Reilly get their chances in the second spot. However, based on Legwand’s play last post-season, and his contract numbers, that’s just not looking likely. I’d expect him in the second spot as they look for perhaps 70 points? Tall order? Maybe, but after the 2010 playoffs I feel like there is anticipation for him to really jump into that role finally.

So at the end of camp, I’m thinking there’s at least one or two more forwards who could challenge for – and possibly earn – spots. One guy I haven’t even plugged in yet because I know very little about him is Jonas Andersson. He figures to make a very serious push for a spot in camp, and at 6-3, 204 could make a good impact if he can use his size to his advantage. Another player I didn’t work in here who has a real shot is Jamie Lundmark. While he’s split time between the AHL and NHL while with the Flames, he’s also played on the top line with Jarome Iginla and showed he can handle himself pretty well. What if he develops a good chemistry with someone in camp? Could he be an impact player? Don’t count him out. Finally for guys we haven’t seen yet, keep an eye on Linus Klasen. He’s slippery this one… shootout moves galore, soft, sweet hands, and very good vision. At just 5-8 his size might hamper him, but if he can play around it, look out.

Before I even begin to wrap up, there’s also the matter of mentioning guys like Matt Halischuk, Mark Santorelli, Nick Spaling and Andreas Thuresson. All of these guys have NHL time and capabilities. All could battle for spots. And all this competition means Milwaukee should be very good this year!

Expect some great competition in camp. I think if you’re one of those folks who likes coming out to training camp, you won’t be disappointed this season. It should be crazy from the get-go. I almost wish we had more pre-season games just from the standpoint of seeing all the possible combinations of forward lines! Either way it will be loads of fun for the fans, and challenging for the coaches. Stay tuned! At some point I plan to tackle the defense.

Keep your stick on the ice.



July 13, 2010
I will prepare a draft wrap (later than most, I know) and some other insightful or just boring things for you in the near future. For the time being, yes, I am alive and doing okay, and felt compelled to update the blog.

Of interest to me is, of course, where Ilya Kovalchuk decides to land – because once he does, everyone else can figure out where they fit in (like Alex Frolov). There will be a second wave of movement after he figures it out because whoever signs him might be pretty much done and whoever doesn’t suddenly has roughly 10-15% of their cap free to throw around. So in the next week you might get some more news to follow.

The Preds prospect camp has come and gone, and I spent some time at the rink getting myself unnecessarily excited for the season. I enjoyed seeing Anders Lindback kneel next to Mitch Korn and look him in the eye. I liked watching kids fly around the ice who could formulate the Preds future. It’s nice to see that Blake Geoffrion seems pretty mellow. I also like Jon Blum looking much bigger and ready to exert a physical presence. Countless other guys here this week showed flashes of brilliance and growth – names that in the next few years will become regulars on the radar. It looks like there is definitely excitement on the horizon as the kids come along through juniors, college, and the minors.

Our division is going to change a bit. Chicago may or may not keep Antti Niemi. But if Niemi wins his arbitration case with the Hawks and they walk away (which I can see happening) he likely will end up disappointed on the open market. I’m not sure teams would be sold on a half-season run. Yes, a Cup means a lot, but with so many name goalies out there and knowing there’s always sophomore slumps and goaltender eccentricities, odds of him catching lightning in a bottle again are not as high. What if the Hawks got Marty Turco? Even much-maligned Jose Theodore? The cap will play into it, for sure. But Chicago could be dramatically different by opening night ... even from where they are now.

St. Louis got Jaroslav Halak at a cap-friendly deal, but what was wrong with Mason? I felt he was establishing himself there pretty well, and looked poised to be the guy – and suddenly there was Halak. (Though Mase did rebound with a gig in Atlanta) The Blues gave up a good prospect in Lars Eller and are going to get younger this year without Tkachuk (and it appears Kariya), so it could be really a good or a really long season for Davis Payne, who now has his first full season to prepare for behind the bench.

Detroit slid Mike Modano an offer, he looked at it and slid it right back. Assumed to be well under the $1M mark for a year, the Wings say they’d love to have him but for one season they won’t make a deal to make room and can’t spend more. Perhaps he goes somewhere else (Minnesota?) but he definitely isn’t ready to leave the game yet. That’s obvious. The Wings will have more experience for Jimmy Howard who will have questions to answer about consistency from year to year. But otherwise the Wings will have kids coming up they hope can fill the gaps when the current greybeards move on. Again, could go well or horribly awry for the Wings?

Columbus… where do I start? They need help, and haven’t gotten any. They don’t appear to have much going on in the pipeline. They got turned down by an AHL coach looking for his first NHL gig to go to Tampa Bay instead. It looks like another long season in Ohio for the Jackets, but I guess you never know. Actually, I think I might on this one.

Finally, I know lots has been muttered about Dan Hamhuis’ comments post-Nashville. I’m going to say that part of it is trying to fit into his new environment and say the popular thing. I also think that saying you no longer want to be “anonymous” by playing in Vancouver means more about recognition for what he does on the ice – and that’s a double-edged sword. Make no mistake, Hamhuis is talented, but every mistake is going to be scrutinized and magnified. Every dollar of salary is going to be accounted for. And if things don’t go well, Nashville might not look so bad in hindsight. I wish him well, but I don’t really think that the comments about Nashville were particularly befitting the way he usually carries himself. Good luck, Dan, I hope you get everything you wish for. We’ll certainly be there watching.

Wow, that was longer than planned! I’ll get a draft wrap floating out to you at some point, and keep you all just interested enough through the summer to be annoying. In the meantime, keep your stick on the ice!

In order to view this page you need JavaScript and Flash Player 9+ support!

nashvillepredators.com is the official Web site of the Nashville Predators and nashvillepredators.com are trademarks of the Nashville Predators.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Nashville Predators and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

NHL Ticket Exchange | Bridgestone Arena | Contact Us | Employment | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map | AdChoices