Our newest writer, David Yampolsky, is back with a followup to his look at Unrestricted Free Agents the Nashville Predators should target. Today, he highlights some RFA's, who would require either an offer sheet or trade with their current team. - Dirk
I truly appreciate the volume of comments I received following my first piece. I really value your assessment of my picks, and as I said before, there is no right answer. We are not David Poile, and I am not sure we would really want to be, especially in this tumultuous offseason for the Preds. Since my first piece, one of my picks, Lee Stempniak, has re-signed with the Calgary Flames at $5 million for two years. More importantly, the Predators have made a statement with Paul Gaustad's new contract that they are willing to spend some serious money on players they they believe will be instrumental in continuing and furthering the team's success in subsequent years. Was Gaustad worth $13 million? This is contestable. However, this may be a hint to Ryan Suter that the Preds are willing to do whatever it takes to sign him. Whether that will change Suter's mind at the end of the day is an entirely different story.
Taking all of this into account, I have assembled an analysis of 7 Restricted Free Agents I think Poile should heavily consider. As always, let me know what you guys think about my picks, and let's hope the Preds make the right moves!
#32 / Right Wing / Florida Panthers
May 13, 1986
|2011 - Kris Versteeg||71||23||31||54||4||49||8||1||5||181|
Coming off his most productive season in the NHL after being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Florida Panthers, Kris Versteeg had 54 points (23 goals and a career-tying 31 assists) and made $3.083 million last season.. Versteeg will need to get a significant bump in his pay due to his stellar performance this past season. The Predators need someone like Versteeg to fill the offensive void left by Andrei Kostitsyn, and he would be a great fit for the Predators’ second line.
#93 / Right Wing / Philadelphia Flyers
Aug 15, 1989
|2011 - Jakub Voracek||78||18||31||49||11||32||0||0||2||190|
Drafted seventh overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2007, Jakub Voracek has had three consecutive plus-45 point seasons. Voracek scored 18 goals and 49 points this past season and added two goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games. Voracek made $2.25 million last season, and after putting up some solid numbers this past season, he can look forward to at least a three year, $3 million contract. However, to pry Voracek away from the Flyers, the Predators may need to up the ante and dish out another million for this star forward, who has yet to play to his fullest potential. Voracek would most likely replace Radulov on the second line, on top of proving to be slightly more dependable come playoff time.
#57 / Left Wing / St. Louis Blues
May 28, 1988
|2011 - David Perron||57||21||21||42||19||28||5||1||4||114|
After a very productive season for the St. Louis Blues, Davin Perron has proven to be a core player alongside Right Winger T.J. Oshie. Perron is already accustomed to a defensive-style of play that the Blues and Predators have adopted to win games, so he should not have any problems fitting into Barry Trotz’s system. Perron is yet another player that can assume the role of Andrei Kostitsyn the Predators’ second line. Last year, Perron made $2.5 million, and after his performance last season, his value can only skyrocket. The Predators may be able to steal Perron from the Blues if they are willing to free up a big chunk of cap space. This may come in the form of, dare I say, letting Ryan Suter go.
#71 / Left Wing / Ottawa Senators
Oct 31, 1987
|2011 - Nick Foligno||82||15||32||47||2||124||1||0||3||153|
After his most productive year in the NHL, with a career-high 47-point season, Nick Foligno has proven to be an invaluable asset to the Ottawa Senators. Having finished sixth amongst Senators forwards in average ice-time per game and seventh in PP TOI/G, Foligno has still a lot of potential left in him. The Senators have been looking for Foligno to score more, yet the Predators have been known to resurrect players’ potentials after acquiring players from teams where such players have been unable to play at their best (Sergei Kostitsyn from the Montreal Canadiens, Mike Fisher from Ottawa Senators). Speaking of Fisher, this may be a good move for the Predators to make, since Foligno has already one familiar face on the team, which should make the transition for him a little bit easier. Foligno deposited $1,550,000 into his bank account last season, and the Senators must take this number seriously into consideration if they desire to keep him. In order for the Predators to steal him, they may need to pony up at least another million to bring the 24-year-old to Music City. Foligno could become the 30-goal scorer the Predators are looking for if everything goes right.
#89 / Center / Edmonton Oilers
Aug 10, 1989
|2011 - Sam Gagner||75||18||29||47||5||36||6||0||0||149|
Do you remember what you did on Groundhog Day this year? Sam Gagner sure does, as he tied a franchise record for the Edmonton Oilers only accomplished by none other than Wayne Gretzky in 1989, contributing to every single of the eight goals scored by the Oilers that night against the Chicago Blackhawks, four of which were his own. Apart from this sensational spectacle, Gagner’s 75-game season was plagued with inconsistencies, though he did manage to score 18, had a total of 47 points, and was at a team best of +5 for the season. His starts and finishes to the season were quite slow, with only 4 goals scored in total in his first 18 and last 23 games of the season. The 34-game stretch in the middle was much more favorable for Gagner, in which he had a remarkable 9-game stretch of 9 goals, 18 points, and a plus-9 rating. Bottom line is, Gagne’s inconsistency needs to be remedied, but at only 22 years old, he has a lot of undiscovered potential. Gagner earned $2.275 million the last two seasons and is undoubtedly due for a pay raise. The Predators may take a serious risk acquiring Gagner, but if all the gears will be turning come next season, Gagne may find himself fitting in very nicely on the Predators second or third lines.
#85 / Center / Washington Capitals
Jan 05, 1988
|2011 - Mathieu Perreault||64||16||14||30||9||24||2||0||4||60|
Despite being a healthy scratch for 18 games last season for the Washington Capitals, Perreault had 16 goals and 14 assists in 64 games, on top of being plus-9 for the season. Unfortunately, because of the Capitals’ saturated lineup, Perreault has not been given the opportunity to fully explode as a top six forward, so he still has room for improvement and a 20+ goal season seems to be on the horizon. Perreault may fit well on the Predators thirdor fourth line, and he has the ability to contribute to the team’s offensive depth. The Caps have just extended a qualifying offer to Perreault for $577,500. The bounty on Perreault is still relatively low, so if Perreault has a lot left in him, the Predators might strike gold with this acquisition.
#7 / Defenseman / Florida Panthers
Oct 29, 1990
|2011 - Dmitry Kulikov||58||4||24||28||-5||36||2||0||1||104|
As everyone knows, the probability that Suter will be gone next season is quite high, and the Predators need to think quick about who his replacement will be. One option is in the up-and-coming defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who had a solid year for the Panthers and broke a career-high with 28 points. With Dale Tallon already very interested in re-signing players such as Jason Garrison, Kris Versteeg, as well as scoping out the market on July 1st for players that can add some more offensive depth to the Panthers lineup, Kulikov may get cut ultimately. Kulikov is in his prime right now, and the Predators can develop him to become one of the top defensemen in the league. He would most likely have the privilege of taking Suter’s spot next to Weber. However, Kulikov’s price would likely be no less than $2-3 million annually. If the Panthers are not prepared to spend that kind of money and lock him up for a long-term deal and the Predators are, then we might just have found Sergei another Russian companion.