Is there room for another star player?
One of our newer writers, David Yampolsky, is back with a look at potential free agent forwards the Preds should look at. - Dirk
Well, Preds fans, it has been a tumultuous couple of weeks. Though we lost one star defensemen, we were able to retain arguably the best defensemen in the world for the next fourteen years. Sure, this is the longest and highest-paying contract the team's ownership has ever been willing to offer, but at the end of the day, the Preds remain highly competitive with Weber on the team. He is player that leads by example and with budding defensemen like Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, Weber’s new partner in crime may prove to be just as effective as Ryan Suter after both players take some time to acclimate to each other's styles of play.
Looking at this situation from a big picture perspective, this move by the Predators ownership demonstrates how serious they are about bringing the Stanley Cup to Music City in the near future. The Predators have recently re-signed key forwards Sergei Kostitsyn and Colin Wilson, and Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad were locked in a while ago, which brings their roster size to 21 currently. Slowly but surely, the Predators have steered themselves back into the right direction after the Suter fiasco, but they still have some work to do.
The 2012-2013 salary cap is $70.2 million, and given the talk from ownership about spending closer to the cap than they have previously, the Predators should still have room to bring in more talent before the start of the season. What we are in dire need of is offense, offense, offense, a void which has not been filled since it became evident Radulov and AK 46 would not be returning for the upcoming season. Now that the free agent market has thinned out and the Predators roster appears to be more set in stone than it did a month ago, let’s take a look at the three forwards that could be the final missing piece to the puzzle.
|2011 - Alexander Semin||77||21||33||54||+9||56||2||0||1||183|
28-year-old Alexander Semin, though having exhausted his tenure with the Washington Capitals, may be able to provide the offensive spark the Predators desperately need for the upcoming season, especially after losing both Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov. Signing Semin will be a risky bet, but may very well be a worthwhile one. He had 54 points with the Capitals the last two seasons, and though he has not been the prolific 40-goal scorer from the 2009-2010 season, put him on the Preds’ second line, and we may have found the solution we need to maintaining the depth throughout the four lines that we began hinting at at the end of last season.
Moreover, he has scored 55 career power-play goals, far more then anyone else on the Preds' second line, and he has a plus-93 since 2008. Semin’s price is fairly high: he made $6.7 million last year with the Caps, and unless he receives a ridiculously attractive offer like his colleague Radulov from a club in Mother Russia, Semin will have to stay here in the NHL. He may be asked to settle for a lower salary due to his decreased productivity in recent years. Poile took an enormous risk when he invited Radulov to finish off last season with the Preds, and in many ways, it paid off, at least until the second round of the playoffs. Semin is notorious for his occasional lackadaisical play, but it is possible that under a head coach like Barry Trotz he could have a turnaround season this upcoming year.
|2011 - Petr Sykora||82||21||23||44||+4||40||4||0||6||170|
Petr Sykora signed a one-year deal with the New Jersey Devils during training camp last year and turned out to be a key contributor to New Jersey's run to the Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old is not the same Devil he used to be around the turn of the century, amassing a total of 269 points throughout the course of four seasons.
This past year Sykora scored 21 goals and contributed 44 points despite playing third and fourth-line minutes for most of the season. He was also invaluable to the power play, mostly on the second unit, scoring six game-winning goals. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, he had 2 goals (one of which was a powerplay goal) and 5 points total. After a two-year skid following his previous Stanley Cup Final appearance, after which he did in fact have the opportunity to hoist the Cup, it seems he has several more productive years left in him. Sykora may prove to be a top-six forward for the Predators, but in any case, he is sure to add some depth to a team that could always benefit from a greater veteran presence and more potent powerplay. If Poile can ink the native of Czech Republic, look for him sign a one-year deal worth between $850,000 and $1.25 million, which for the Predators will be a huge bargain, especially after adding Shea Weber's salary to the team's payroll.
|2011 - Shane Doan||79||22||28||50||-8||48||5||0||5||226|
There have been sixteen teams expressing interest in Shane Doan joining them for the next season. However, it is a little more about just where he plans to play next year. The entire future of the Coyotes is up in the air. The 35-year-old NHL veteran is giving former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison until Friday to make progress toward his attempted purchase of the Coyotes.
Doan has currently visited with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, yet the situation has drastically changed since then. The Rangers’ acquisition of Rick Nash leaves them with $13.3 million of cap space, and they have enough to dish out another $5 million or more on Doan which is what his expected salary will be after an incredibly productive season with 22 goals and 50 points. They will be without Left Winger Marian Gaborik next season due to an upcoming shoulder surgery, and Doan could prove to be the quintessential Right Winger the Rangers need to have another crack at winning the Stanley Cup.
The Flyers, on the other hand, may become more desperate in pursuing Doan, now that they have freed up an enormous amount of cap space with Weber not defecting to the city of Brotherly Love. However, their lineup seems pretty packed with Claude Giroux, Daniel Briere, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek all acting as Right Wingers. The Predators can use Shane Doan on the second and third lines, but they have to act quick if they want a shot at securing this star veteran. On top of skills, the Predators could greatly benefit from some more veteran leadership in the locker room, and having Doan around could only help boost the team morale, especially after the departure of Alternate Captain Ryan Suter.