The hot topic over the last several days heading into tonight's Skate of the Union address is how well David Poile has positioned the Nashville Predators to compete during the upcoming 2011-2012 NHL season. There are those who think he's done the right thing to avoid the costly quick fixes available during the Free Agent Frenzy, and others who are sick of watching star-quality offensive talent whirl around the NHL while we hope that Niclas Bergfors turns out to be a winning lottery ticket like Sergei Kostitsyn was last season.
As for myself? I fall somewhere in the middle:
- On the upside, I do like the financial maneuverings which freed up budget flexibility. Watching Joel Ward go out the door was pretty tough, as they don't have another defensive winger of his caliber, and it would have been nice to get some hockey value back in exchange for Cody Franson. All the same, the money is now there to sign Shea Weber and still afford a legitimate Top 6 forward (if one can be found).
- On the downside, the RFA/Qualifying Offer scenario looks like an unnecessary blunder, even if nobody in the organization will admit to it. The fact that the 5 RFA's signed new deals right before the arbitration hearing with the NHLPA sure makes the Preds appear the more desperate party (the players, after all, had nothing to lose going in). Fortunately, the damage was minimal compared to Chicago in 2009.
- Another downside? Getting nothing in return for any of the departing unrestricted free agents. Yes, it seemed like those kinds of trades were less common this summer than in 2010, but especially given the interest in Joel Ward after his playoff run, you'd think the Preds would have been able to "sell high" and at least get something like a mid-round draft pick.
There was some discussion on Twitter and in the comments here about the potential for booing tonight based on the lack of a big-name acquisition, and I can't imagine we'd really see any significant amount of that, especially for a guy who just nominated for GM of the Year. There's plenty of time to get something done with the forwards before the season begins.
Now if David Poile felt the need to make a splashy deal, just to impress the fans at tonight's event? Then I'd be really concerned...
In today's afternoon hockey notes, we've got a radio commentator basically using a homophobic slur to question Cody Franson's physicality.
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Nashville Predators News
While reading your news, listen in as Predators CEO Jeff Cogen previewed the Skate of the Union yesterday on the radio:
Preds FTW!: WHAT DOES THE BANNER MEAN?!?!?!?!?!
I think the heat's getting to Matt, given some of his hopes for tonight!
2011 Skate of the Union taking place in Nashville tonight… | Section 303
Given the lack of other sports news these days, the stakes involved in tonight's jersey reveal are pretty high, writes Jeremy.
Announcing the 4th "Summer Sucks, Drop the Puck!" event… | Section 303
What does hockey have to do with the Women's World Cup soccer championship? Beats me, but any excuse to gather fellow puckheads together is OK by me.
Sellebration for Fisher - Ottawa Sun
Mike Fisher returns to Ottawa for an evening.
Preds On The Glass: POTG "Skate of the Union" Wednesday Headlines, News and Links
Buddy shares video of the last two years' events for your review...
Around the NHL
Pan The Parade - Pension Plan Puppets
Wow, did a Toronto sports radio host really say Cody Franson is too soft by referring to him as a Gay Pride Parade guy? Inconceivable...
Burnside rants: Truth to realignment rumors, Hulsizer and Heatley-Havlat fallout - ESPN
Scott Burnside beats up a bit of a straw man here, I don't anybody's seriously assuming that the NHL's realignment plan is decided upon already, especially in light of the Phoenix situation.
A Critical Turning Point in the Blues Ownership Saga? - NHL Hot Stove
Who will end up buying the Blues? That's very much up in the air.
Next Devils’ Coach Might Want to Learn He’s Hired - New Jersey Devils - PuckUpdate
What the heck is taking so long in New Jersey?