• PRINT
  • RSS

Predators Free Agency Preview

Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 7:21 AM CT / Features
By Matthew Bontorin
X
Share with your Friends


Predators Free Agency Preview

In the midst of draft preparations, Predators General Manager David Poile and his hockey operations team are busy putting together a plan for the upcoming free agency period beginning July 1. Poile is scheduled to meet with a handful of Predators restricted free agents who must be tendered qualifying offers before the deadline on Monday, June 30.

“We’ve started negotiations with just about everybody,” Poile said. “To me it would be nice to have it done but it isn’t an urgent situation such as if you’re dealing with an unrestricted free agent. I think in due course we’ll get these players taken care of.”

The players that Poile is referring to are defensemen Michael Del Zotto, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and left winger Nick Spaling. Predators right winger Patrick Eaves is the lone unrestricted free agent heading into July 1. Poile confirmed last week he would not be making Eaves a contract offer.

Unrestricted free agents can begin meeting and interviewing with potential new teams Wednesday before being able to sign contracts Tuesday, July 1. With Eaves off the books, the Predators enter free agency well below the projected salary cap. With the cap estimated to rise to around $71 million, Poile feels like he has much more flexibility with free agents.

“It was a paralyzing situation with the cap going down a year ago,” Poile said. “Nobody had any flexibility. This year with the cap going up you could see some action.”

Despite the ability to spend more money this offseason, the free agency pool is arguably the scarcest it has been in years. With most of the top unrestricted free agents expected to re-sign with their current teams, it may turn into an overpriced bidding war for those few players left.

After signing five players – Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Carter Hutton, Viktor Stalberg and Matt Hendricks – on the opening day of free agency a year ago, Poile is looking to sign just one or two high-caliber forwards this free agency period.

“Last year I think we had a lot of holes in our hockey club,” Poile said. “I wasn’t happy with our team the previous year and we needed to make a lot of changes. This year we’re looking for more quality than quantity.”

With a wealth of young, talented players, Poile has made it clear he is confident in his current roster going forward. With one of the League’s best young defensive corps and an All-Star caliber goalie healthy and back from injury, Poile believes his team is close to being able to make a playoff push.

“I’ve got patience,” Poile said. “I think we have got a lot of players that can play better than they did last year at the forward position and I think we have a lot of prospects coming along.”

Poile and the Predators will enter free agency with list of players they intend to entertain with offers. Currently, the Predators have 11 forwards under NHL contracts heading into next season.

Poile reaffirmed he would bump one of those players out if he’s able to acquire the top forward he’s seeking. With that being said Poile also made it clear he would not overpay or force a fit here in Nashville.

“We go into free agency with a plan,” Poile said. “We’ve identified a handful of players we would like to approach on July 1. If it’s a fit for us that’ll be great, but I’m not going to be over promising that something is going to happen.”

Below are links to a handful of evaluations of the top free agents in this year’s class:

Sports Illustarted

USA Today

Bleacher Report

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61