It's never too early to start looking ahead to the 2010-11 version of the Nashville Predators, and the most likely roster changes involve players who are heading into free agency.
After the jump we'll point out whose contracts are up, and ask the vital question, per the Clash - Should they stay or should they go?When it comes to restricted free agents, the basic story there is that the Preds need to make Qualifying Offers to those players to retain their RFA rights (basically, the QO is for what they made last year, with a small bump for lesser-paid players). After July 1, if the RFA hasn't yet signed a new contract, other teams can sign them to an offer sheet, which the Predators can match if they choose. If the Preds decide to let that player go, they would get compensation from the player's new team, based on the cap hit involved on the new contract. Here's a reference to what the compensation looked like last summer, and this year's should be very close to the same.
|2009 - Wade Belak||39||0||2||2||0||58||0||0||0||0||8||0.0|
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent, made $650,000 this season (all salary numbers per NHLNumbers.com)
Prospects: The utility of enforcers in the NHL continues to diminish, particularly to a Predators team which focused so much on discipline and staying out of the penalty box. The poor special teams play we saw all season might prompt Nashville to invest Belak's roster spot in a role-player who can help the PP or PK.
Odds to return: Pretty low.
|2009 - Francis Bouillon||81||3||8||11||5||50||1||0||1||0||86||3.5|
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent, made $750,000 this season.
Prospects: Endeared himself to coaches and fans by filling Greg Zanon's former role to perfection, often filling in on the Top Four and power play units when called upon due to injury.
Odds to return: Very good, David Poile mentioned a few weeks ago that he hopes to get Bouillon re-signed before July 1.
|2009 - Dustin Boyd||78||11||13||24||6||19||0||0||3||0||112||9.8|
Status: Restricted Free Agent, made $650,000 this season.
Prospects: Seemed to fit in well upon coming over from Calgary at the Trade Deadline, and has potential as a depth forward who can fill multiple roles.
Odds to return: Pretty good - he should be signable for a reasonable, sub-$1 million salary.
|2009 - Dan Ellis||31||1715||15||13||1||77||2.69||848||771||.909||1|
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent, made $2 million this season.
Prospects: With the new two-year contract for Pekka Rinne, it's clear that the #1 job is taken in Nashville. Ellis, although a fan favorite (due in no small part to his banter on Twitter), is simply too good not to get a better opportunity elsewhere in the league. At age 30, he is in prime position to earn his NHL payday.
Odds to return: Slim and none, just wish him the best as he provides for his young family.
|2009 - Cody Franson||61||6||15||21||15||16||1||0||3||0||90||6.7|
Status: Restricted Free Agent, made $525,000 at the NHL level this season (spent some time in AHL)
Prospects: What more could the Preds have asked him to do? While he needs to work on his mobility, Franson had a great season, particularly in 5-on-5 play where he piled up the points quicker than any other Nashville defenseman. Next year, we'll have to see if he can continue to do that against stiffer competition.
Odds to return: Excellent.
|2009 - Denis Grebeshkov||51||7||14||21||-16||32||1||0||0||0||47||14.9|
Status: Restricted Free Agent, made $3.15 million this season.
Prospects: Predators fans only got to see him for 6 games, but his puck-moving ability stood out on a team loaded with blueline talent. On a team desperate for improvement on the power play, he would seem to be a viable option.
Odds to return: Medium - he'll likely cost close to what Hamhuis will make, but can fill a role that Hammer can't.
|2009 - Dan Hamhuis||78||5||19||24||4||49||0||0||0||0||115||4.3|
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent, made $2.5 million this season.
Prospects: There was some talk that if the Preds went deep into the playoffs they might earn enough money to be able to afford a new contract with Hammer, but we all know how that worked out. On the free agency market, he may well top the $4 million mark, based on signings from last summer. Considering the talent coming up through the pipeline, I can't see the Predators matching that.
Odds to return: Low.
|2009 - Patric Hornqvist||80||30||21||51||18||40||10||0||8||0||275||10.9|
Status: Restricted Free Agent, made $620,000 this season.
Prospects: Had a breakout season at just the right time. The good news is, there's still upside here waiting to be tapped into.
Odds to return: If he doesn't, the peasants will storm 501 Broadway with pitchforks and torches.