Rumor this afternoon from a Finnish source had Predators rookie defenseman Teemu Laakso driving to Milwaukee this afternoon after getting demoted following his benching Saturday night mid-way through the second period of the Predators 3-2 shootout loss at Washington.
While Laakso did participate in this morning's practice and was initially listed on the Predators Community Day lineup serving food at Hardee's in LaVergne with fellow rookie Cal O'Reilly, word comes this afternoon that Laakso has been removed from the Community Day appearance lineup and also removed from the Predators active NHL roster on their website as well.
This transaction and the injury to Dan Hamhuis leaves the Predators with only 5 healthy defensemen available for Wednesday night's game at Boston leaving the question to be asked, "Who will fill the last spot on D?"
Prospect Alexander Sulzer is an obvious selection to be recalled from Milwaukee, but raises the question of how to sort out the defensive pairings with two rookies in the lineup (Cody Franson). Sulzer was initially reassigned to Milwaukee at the end of training camp as a surprise to many due to his one-way contract status, but was demoted based on merit due to a poor performance during camp. Sulzer has been one of the Admirals best defenders since his demotion and has to be in the consideration here for the spot, however do the Predators want to bring in a veteran free agent to fill the hole?
The two veterans of interest at this point of the season are former Predator Greg DeVries and long-time NHL rearguard 47 year-old Chris Chelios. Reports had DeVries working out on his own throughout training camp and one would have to assume that he would have instant chemistry with Hamhuis if reunited, however it is Chelios that was talked to and about as a candidate this summer by Predators head coach Barry Trotz himself. Either player would bring declining skills to the roster, but would add a tremendous amount of veteran savvy and be looked upon to serve as a mentor for the young Nashville defensive corps.
Regardless of the choice, I expect that one way or another the team would like to take the plane to Boston tomorrow afternoon with their full lineup on-board and with a practice under their belt. Unless Hamhuis is returning from his upper-body injury in time for Wednesday's contest (which would negate all of this...), I believe we will see a new face at practice tomorrow morning when the Predators hit the ice.