Two players who did not receive qualifying offers from the Nashville Predators were cut loose as unrestricted free agents last week, and today word came that both of them are landing with teams which will become new division rivals for the Preds thanks to the realignment taking effect this fall.
Jun 01, 1988
"Hustlechuk" signed a two-way one-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets, where the reaction from fans seems to indicate that he may find a place in head coach Claude Noel's system. The drop from a salary of $825,000 to $650,000 speaks to the job he still needs to do to establish himself as an NHL regular.
Jan 30, 1989
Blummer's experience in Nashville was a bit of a roller coaster, as his debut in the spring of 2011 drew rave reviews, but masked underlying puck possession issues which became exposed over the next two seasons. Mike Russo reported today that the Minnesota Wild are finalizing a deal with Blum which could become official as early as tomorrow.
Gone, For Nothing?
It's understandable for some fans to regret that two young players like this are leaving the organization with nothing coming back in return, as Paul Nicholson noted:
@Forechecker I'm so spoiled. I feel disappointed that anything approaching an asset left the org without a 7th rounder coming back— Paul Nicholson (@pwnicholson) July 11, 2013
The thing is, this process is exactly how it's supposed to work for Restricted Free Agents. With both of these players having completed their previous contracts, the burden was on the Predators to decide whether or not to extend a Qualifying Offer (and potentially another contract), or risk letting them walk away unrestricted.
It's a critical decision point for the team, because they can only keep 50 guys under contract at any time, so they can't just hand out offers like candy. At the same time, for the marginal player, this gives them the chance to find work somewhere else in the NHL rather than get buried in the depth chart of their original team.
So don't rue the loss of Blum & Halischuk, just wish 'em the best going forward and boo them lustily when the Wild & Jets come to town next time.