Measured Praise for the Cats
Last night I enjoyed some nice blackberry wine to go with the Panthers v. Wild game. It's hard not to enjoy the Cats having some success after all the futility the team has went through. But since Dale Tallon has taken the reigns, they've had a plan. They had certain players they knew they wanted to build around, but knew that wasn't enough. Previously, they tried throwing money at ALL THE UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS that one year, and that didn't exactly work long-term. Nope, they took their medicine and drafted franchise players in Erik Gudbranson, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov. Barkov was taken over Jonathan Drouin who is in today's news for some interesting reasons, while Barkov is playing some great hockey. Also, they did well getting Nick Bjugstad (the pick after Austin Watson) and marginal players with upside outside of the first round of the draft.
Even more impressive is that they've become a good landing spot for veteran players like Willie Mitchell, Jussi Jokinen, and the incomparable Jaromir Jagr. It's the blend of kids and veterans who still have lead left in the pencil that make Florida a fine example of how to rebuild.
But what's served the Panthers well is the willingness to make trades. They made deadline deals to get players for the playoff push (Jagr), sold when they needed to (Nathan Horton), and made good hockey trades to acquire good goaltending (Roberto Luongo) or a position in need at forward (swapping Jimmy Hayes for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard's cap hit).
The Panthers aren't perfect, but better days are ahead. And with the right moves, Nashville can be in a similar situation. What's even better for Florida: they play in the east and in a division where two teams are tanking.
So where does that leave Nashville? There are four main options out there for the Predators when it comes to their roster, and an option for people who choose to settle in life.
DO NOTHING THIS YEAR. Let's face it, this is the most likely of the options. The downside is that the organization will shell out another big check to Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne, and the team will likely fight like hell to make the playoffs and win a few games before fizzling out to a superior team. That's what happens most years. The upside to this scenario is that Nashville will spend another year developing Vladislav Kamenev, Juuse Saros and Kevin Fiala for their eventual roles. It's disappointing in the short-term, no doubt. But it's a good move IF the prospects pan out.
TRADE FOR A RENTAL PLAYER. This may be the most foolish move long-term, but it's always energizing to see your team "go for it". The reality is that Eric Staal is a good player that will play the role Nashville needs, but he's purely a rental. Scratching him a check for $7m a year will be a terrible move. Hell, Ryan Kesler's contract would think that's a bad move. Let's not plan on him staying, shall we? Staal will probably cost a prospect and a player, and Nashville will regret it dearly unless a banner gets hung. And with Rinne's form as of late, that may not be a wise bet to make.
MAKE A TRADE THAT MOVES THE TIMETABLE UP. I really enjoy Seth Jones. And I do know that we'll all miss him if/when he's gone. But the team does have a Shea Weber and a Roman Josi, along with Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. His value is high, and he has some big contracts coming his way. Nashville is already paying one very large sum to a defenseman, so it's not dumb to think about the future of the team's finances. Seth Jones being shipped off for a young 1C is a move that does make sense for both sides, so hopefully there won't be riots in the streets.
MAKE A TRADE THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING. I really enjoy
Seth Jones Shea Weber. And I do know that we'll all miss him if/when he's gone. But the team does have a Shea Weber and a Roman Josi and a Seth Jones, along with Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. His value is high, and he has some big contracts checks coming his way. Nashville is already paying one very large sum to a defenseman, so it's not dumb to think about the future of the team's finances. Seth Jones Shea Weber being shipped off for a young 1C bounty including a 1C as well as some needed depth is a move that does make sense for both sides, so hopefully there won't be riots in the streets. However, this probably happens in the summer, so this would technically be camp "do nothing" for a few months.
SETTLE. See what you can get for Ryan Ellis and a player/prospect. Ryan Ellis is a very good player that thrives in today's NHL, and doesn't cost much. That's very valuable in today's NHL where the salary cap is the real enemy for many teams. Hi, Boston. Chances are that this will either cost Nashville a key prospect or a lot of draft value, OR the player won't be the caliber needed to center the top line. But you would still have Seth Jones and Shea Weber.
Have fun with that one and vote in the poll below. Let's do the [censored] news.
Nashville Predators News & Notes:
Predators mailbag: When will Kamenev, Fiala arrive? | Tennessean
Kamenev keeps climbing in the hearts and minds of fans. Not hard to see why.
Nashville Predators: 2015 Year in Review - Nashville Predators - Features
February: Mike Ribeiro joins the 700-point club. (Probably the only edition of the 700 Club he'll ever be on)
World Junior Championships:
Previewing the world junior semifinals | WORLD JUNIOR | Toronto Sun
They're picking a 5-2 win for USA over Russia.
WJC Ice Chips: Sweden, Finland ready for battle - Article - TSN
When have Sweden and Finland ever played a bad game against each other?
IIHF World Junior Championship semifinal round preview | 2016 World Junior Championship
Let's hope Kamenev gets an Ovechtrick, finishes with a +7 and 63% CF, and USA wins 11-10. Deal?
Other NHL Stuff, mostly Drouin related:
Ovechkin calls All-Star captaincy 'huge honor' | NHL.com
One captain says he'd rather be in the Bahamas. Another didn't want to nomination because it was a joke. The other captain is a scumbag who gets drunk and has bad ideas. So bless you Ovi, glad someone is making this cool.
Former No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin requests trade from Tampa Bay Lightning | ESPN
19 games this year, 8 points for the former 3rd overall pick. He should be good, but he's being outplayed by other Tampa Bay prospects.
Agent for Bolts forward Drouin sought trade in November | TBO.com and The Tampa Tribune
"As Drouin walked out of Amalie Arena Saturday morning with his equipment bag and hockey sticks in hand, he looked unhappy and declined comment other than to say he was heading to Syracuse."
The Impasse Between The Lightning and Jonathan Drouin - TSS
Tampa's issue is going to be their cap in a few years, so trading off a young talented player before they're able to maximize his value hurts the Lightning. But as high profile as Drouin is, they should get back decent value.
Rielly growing into matchup role - Article - TSN
The Leafs are getting better, and Morgan Rielly deserves some of the credit.
Trade: ‘Hawks acquire Panik from Leafs in exchange for Morin | ProHockeyTalk
Both players have yet to play in an NHL game this season.
Stars' Ruff accuses Clutterbuck of embellishing injury after hit from Demers | theScore.com
Clutterbuckin' at its finest.
Change in Motion: The Florida Panthers and their Future - Litter Box Cats
The Florida Panthers have gone from NHL wasteland to possible NHL cornucopia.
WATCH: Blackhawks honor Patrick Kane for record-breaking point streak | CSN Chicago
Glad he "could put distance himself" from the allegations, even though he shouldn't act like it never happened. Nevertheless, the NHL and NBC will proceed to act like he's USA's hockey Jesus.
I honestly hope we make enough racket during the all-star weekend that the NBC folks have to do damage control.
Browns have reportedly given up on Johnny Manziel, who wants to play for the Cowboys - SBNation.com
If the guy can find that much fun in Cleveland, watch what happens in Dallas or San Francisco.
Eater Nashville's Top Posts of 2015 - Eater Nashville
A sudden shutter, anticipated openings and where to grab a good drink. Our friend Matt over at Eater did a great job of helping us find new places all year.