Nashville Predators GM David Poile has gotten right back to work after the NHL Draft last weekend, as attention turns toward the raft of younger players working their way up through the system:
First, qualifying offers were made
to Ville Koistinen and Kevin Klein, the 7th and 8th defensemen on the roster last season. Those two will not be subject to RFA offer sheets, and, if the situation remains as it appears right now, would return all eight defensemen from last season to Nashville this fall. UPDATE
: Sorry for the brain cramp there; the fact that qualifying offers were made means that Nashville has the right to match offer sheets from other teams. If no such qualifying offer is made, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Second, qualifying offers were also made to Rich Peverley and Matt Ellison
. Ellison didn't play at all with the Predators last year after a stint in the preseason, but Peverley made an impact when he was called up from Milwaukee after David Legwand got hurt; 5 goals and 5 assists in 33 games, and only 8 penalty minutes while averaging 10:20 of ice time per game. I've said before that something's got to be done about Nashville's 3rd line, and perhaps one option would be to give Peverley a shot at center there until 1st-round pick Colin Wilson is ready in a year or so.
Lastly, Poile made a trade with Philadelphia, sending Janne Niskala, a 27 year-old defenseman who wasn't about to leap past K & K into the Top Six, over to the Flyers in exchange for tough-guy Triston Grant
and a 7th-round pick in 2009. This represents a minor step in clearing up the blue line situation, and also helps fill the void left when Darcy Hordichuk departed
, as one can tell by Grant's profile over at HockeyFights.com
. It looks like he's a lefty who can definitely take as much as he dishes out; the few bouts that I saw often saw Grant start slowly, but usually land some solid blows. Whether he can actually play hockey at the NHL level is obviously an open question.