TSN is reporting that the Nashville Predators have traded the rights
to captain Kimmo Timonen and winger Scott Hartnell, both upcoming free agents, to the Philadelphia Flyers for a first-round pick (the one they sent to Philly for renting Peter Forsberg this spring).
With the ownership picture still cloudy, GM David Poile apparently knew he wouldn't be able to re-sign either of these players, considered by most to be two of the most attractive free agents on the market. Instead, Poile gets a 1st-round draft pick back, and the Flyers lock up two quality players (both agreed to six-year deals worth a combined $10.5 million/year with Philly).
While of course, the initial reaction is that this is a sign of a "Major League
"-style dismantling of the club in order to break the lease and move the team out of town, it is worth considering the possiblity that this is a case of Poile getting something out of a situation he wasn't going to successfully work through anyway. At this point, the Predators can cope with the loss of Timonen on the blue line, but at the age of 25, Hartnell
is seen as a difference-making power forward just coming into his own in the NHL.
The question going forward, of course, is how Poile will fare with the rest of Nashville's free agent prospects (most notably Paul Kariya), and what he can pick up on the open market next month, given what is assuredly a paltry payroll figure by current owner Craig Leipold. Even if the Balsillie deal falls through, Leipold wants to get rid of the team, and a tried-and-true tactic for doing so is to dump high-dollar players.