Summer of 2014: A Preview

With the team officially eliminated from playoff contention, the focus shifts towards the 2014 offseason. Particularly free agency, the key way for this team to improve it's playoff chances heading into 2014 - 15. Analyzing the current roster, it becomes clear that there won't be a great deal of change heading into next year (barring trades) as 17 current Preds are locked up for upcoming season. As well, 5 players are likely due to be re-signed before they can hit the open market. It is my estimation that they will receive the following raises:

Spaling +.5 to 2M Ellis +1.5 to 3M MDZ +.5 to 3M Ekholm +.5 to 1.5M Hutton +1.3 to 2M

Resulting in 5M total of additional salary, leaving the Nashville Predators with around 15M of cap space heading into July 1st as the salary cap jumps to 71M in 2014 - 15.

Meanwhile, the complexion of the present day forward core is as follows:

  • Top Six Forwards: Smith, Hornqvist, Fisher, Wilson (4)
  • Bottom Line Forwards: Stalberg, Cullen, Spaling, Nystrom, Bourque, Gaustad (6)
  • Neither Here Nor There: Jarnkrok, Forsberg, Clune, Sissons (4)

Clearly, Poile's priorities should be focused on acquiring at least one top six forward as even Colin Wilson hasn't quite developed as planned thus far and Calle and Fillip are very young to expect consistent top six production out of them at this point in their careers. Enter the 2014 crop of FA forwards, their projected contract and essential details:

Tier 1

Thomas Vanek LW, 6 years x 7M = 42M, 30 years old. Vanek is still capable of scoring at near point per game pace and will be a first line winger for at least the next few years. He could do wonders to help this team offensively and even possibly help rejuvenate Colin Wilson after a down year, while taking the pressure off HornQ, Smith and Fisher.

Likelihood he signs in Nashville? B-

Marian Gaborik RW, 4 years at 7.3M = 30M, 32 years old. His production has dipped to the .6 ppg range in recent seasons but Gaborik is still an elite forward in the NHL, though at 32 it's likely his best years are behind him. He is comfortable in a smaller market and would be a fit here in Nashville as a quiet, easy going person off the ice. On Ice, he could be a difference maker for this young squad and could help this team to their first playoff berth in 3 years.

Likelihood he signs in Nashville? B+

Paul Stastny C, 8 years at 6.6 M = 50M, 28 years old. The youngest impact Free Agent is also the most likely to be re-signed by his current team. Patrick Roy loves Stastny and is appreciative of his excess of riches at the F position, while the Avs are clearly building a contender. Statny has scored at a .8 ppg pace for his career and is clearly capable as a first line center in the modern NHL. Smith - Stastny - Hornqvist could be tremendous.

Likelihood he signs in Nashville? C-

Tier 2

Mike Cammalleri RW, 3 years at 5M = 15M, 31 years old. Cammalleri would have scored 30 goals this year if he had stayed healthy, which has been his biggest concern as a mature NHL player. He turns 32 in June but is clearly capable as a first line winger, though as is the case with most of these players, his best days are behind him.

Likelihood he signs in Nashville? C+

Mikhail Grabovski C, 4 years at 4.5M = 26M, 30 years old. With the Randy Carlyle incident firmly behind him, Grabovski will be a solid prize for any team wise enough to look past his much exaggerated "character issues". Grabo is a lovely asset in the modern NHL and is useful in any role. He can fit in on a top line and will be a valuable piece of whichever teams he ends up with.

Likelihood he signs in Nashville? B-

Matt Moulson LW, 4 years at 4M = 16M, 30 years old. Though, clearly the beneficiary of playing beside John Tavares for several years, Matt is still a top six forward who scored 30 goal seasons in 3 consecutive season and seems poised for several years in at least 20 goal range.

Likelihood he signs in Nashville? B+

Tier 3

Milan Michalek RW, Radim Vrbata RW and Ales Hemsky RW are all solid top six forwards in the NHL (who happen to all be Czech) and could slot in nicely in our lineup next year. Neither will be in a position to demand too much in the way of terms and/or dollar value and could be valuable parts of a young team heading into 2014 - 15.

Likelihood they sign in Nashville? B

Several of the FA options have been omitted for various reasons, including the fact that Ryan Callahan is looking for 7 years at 42 M for his next contract (yikes...), David Legwand is likely to re sign in Detroit and Dany Heatley is clearly past his prime. There are additionally a few fringe Free Agents including Derek Roy, Nikolai Kulemin and Olli Jokinen but they are less than attractive candidates for various reasons.

Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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