After hearing speculation about this over the weekend, the Nashville Predators have confirmed this morning that they have inked defenseman Victor Bartley. The reports from Sweden indicated that it's a 2-year contract, but we expect to get more details on that front later today (update: the press release below verifies that). This deal brings Bartley back to North America after playing last season with Rögle in Sweden's HockeyAllsvenskan, just below the Swedish Elite League.
Thanks to Chris from 2ManyMenOTS on Twitter for pointing to a Russian report yesterday that the deal was done. HockeyExpressen in Sweden also confirms the news, which has now been verified by the Preds today.
At his age, Bartley's likely role is to provide a good example to the young defensemen in Milwaukee and help mentor them. The Predators do have a long track record of giving hard-working late bloomers a chance, however, including names like Joel Ward, Dan Ellis and Greg Zanon among others. It's hard to see a guy with just 18 games of AHL experience making the jump to the NHL this season, however.
Follow after the jump for the Preds' press release...
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed free-agent defenseman Victor Bartley to a two-year, two-way contract worth $525,000 on the NHL level and $67,500 on the AHL level in both 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Bartley, 23 (2/17/88), spent the 2010-11 campaign with Rogle of Sweden's second division (Allsvenskan) ranking second among league defensemen in points and assists, and tied for third in goals (11g-23a-34pts, 52gp). The 6-0, 203-pound blueliner also finished first on Rogle in shots on goal (132) and second in penalty minutes (56), helping the club to a 26-11-15 record, good for second in the Allsvenskan. Despite Rogle falling short of promotion to the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien) for the 2011-12 season during postseason qualification play (Kval till Elitserien), Bartley tied for first in assists and sixth in points (2g-7a-9pts) among all skaters in 10 tournament games.
The native of Maple Ridge, B.C., native played five Western Hockey League seasons with Kamloops and Regina from 2004-09, amassing 168 points (36g-132a) and 466 penalty minutes in 336 games. He had his best junior season in 2008-09 when he tied for ninth among WHL defensemen in goals (15) and ranked 12th in points (46) while captaining the Pats. Bartley split his first professional season between the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies and AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2009-10.