Which of Nashville's restricted free agents will get qualifying offers?

With the NHL's free agency season opening on Friday, July 1, one of the major decisions facing general manager David Poile this week is which of his restricted free agents should receive qualifying offers. These contract offers are required if Nashville wants to retain their rights to that player (i.e. the ability to match an offer sheet or receive compensation from another team), but must meet a minimum salary standard based on what the player made in 2010-11. It's not unusual for the team to take another month or two to finally get a contract signed.

Last summer, as an example, the Preds declined to make a qualifying offer to defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, because they would have had to offer him at least $3.15 million. Without such an offer, he was allowed to walk away from the team, ultimately heading overseas for the KHL.

After the jump, let's take a look at the individual players involved here, and take some potshots as to who will get an offer and who won't...

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Nick Spaling

#13 / Center / Nashville Predators



Sep 19, 1988

Chance of an offer: Count on it!

2010 - Nick Spaling 74 8 6 14 -10 20 1 0 2 75 10.7

In his first full NHL season Spaling worked his way into a steady role as a checker and penalty killer, and will assuredly be back with the Preds. He made just under $900K last season, so a qualifying offer must include at least a 5% raise.

Matt Halischuk

Halischuk impressed many fans with his work ethic in a 4th-line role, and at 23 years of age I'm guessing the Preds will want to see if he can continue to develop as a player. Another sub-$1 million guy who would require a 5% raise on an offer sheet (from $875,000 last season).

Chance of an offer: Very high


Cal O`Reilly

#16 / Center / Nashville Predators



Sep 30, 1986

Chance of an offer: Done deal already?

2010 - Cal O`Reilly 38 6 12 18 4 2 1 0 1 44 13.6

At the NHL Awards while answering a question from Jeremy at Section 303, David Poile let it slip that the team has signed Cal for next season.

Sergei Kostitsyn

#74 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators



Mar 20, 1987

Chance of an offer: Count on it!

2010 - Sergei Kostitsyn 77 23 27 50 10 20 4 1 2 93 24.7

Yeah, there's no way the Preds will let their leading scorer walk away unrestricted.

Mark Santorelli

8 goals and 13 assists in 64 AHL games doesn't exactly look like a guy destined for the NHL, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Preds let the younger Santorelli brother (who turns 23 this summer) ply his trade elsewhere. 

Chance of an offer: Doubtful

Andreas Thuresson

Thuresson could be called the Teemu Laakso of forwards - he's not on the track for a regular NHL job, but he can be called upon for spot duty in the event of injuries further up the depth chart. I could see the Preds toying with the idea of keeping him around for security's sake, but has Matt Halischuk supplanted his role here?

Chance of an offer: 50/50

Dan Gendur

Acquired as part of the Shane O`Brien trade, Gendur only played 10 games in Milwaukee last season before being sent to the CHL. I doubt the Preds are holding a spot for him with the Admirals.

Chance of an offer: Doubtful

Chris Mueller

Mueller was one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, not even signed to an NHL contract when the season began, but called upon when an emergency developed at the center position. Guys like that serve as role models within the organization, pointing out how the Predators are willing to reward whoever gets the job done their way (as Joel Ward did just a couple years ago, coming out of nowhere to earn a regular NHL job).

Chance of an offer: Highly Likely

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