The Devils, Flames and Senators have made the common mistake of overvaluing past performance and miscalculating present contributions. It is difficult to part ways with an aging player or a group that has had success. To do so takes discipline and an eye on the future. Look at the Nashville Predators. They are competitive every single season. Yet, they walked away from Arnott and defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who landed in Vancouver as a coveted free agent.
The Preds’ plan included those tough decisions because they can’t sign everyone, even their own free agents. Instead, they keep talent coming from within, and in this season’s case, that means Cody Franson and Kevin Klein get more responsibility on the blueline and Cal O’Reilly and Colin Wilson get worked into the mix more up front. It’s a hard reality, but it’s no different in philosophy than what the NFL’s New England Patriots practice: roll personnel through a well-established identity that revolves around a select group of core players while simultaneously staying in the moment and always being ready to make the next move.