Even with Peter Laviolette at the helm, Jason Spezza said no to coming to Nashville. Ryan Suter? He wanted to go home. Now there's Jimmy Vesey, who decided not to sign here last year or this year. Nashville has had some dire needs over the last half-decade, despite being an above average team for most of that time. Other than the ill-fated Matt Lombardi signing (which I promise was actually a big deal at the time), free agents have avoided Nashville unless they were looking for that one last chance to revive their careers. And when it comes to waiving the no-trade and non-movement clauses? It hasn't been happening.
Although, let's take a moment and thank Eric Staal for not electing to come here in 2014.
Players and agents talk. And while the Predators do have a roster loaded with youth, and have the cap room to keep growing... they'll still need to add a piece or two in coming years. Championship teams aren't built through free agency in the NHL (Hi, Minnesota!), they're built through smart drafting and asset management. Nashville hasn't had the picks in the top 5 like other franchises over the past decade, aside from Seth Jones. In fact, David Poile's default move at the deadline was shipping off a first rounder for a rental, then touting the second round pick as the guy they would've taken if they had a first round pick.
But in spite of that, Poile has built a top six that consists of 4 players acquired through trades of Martin Erat (1 year left on his contract), David Legwand (expiring), Patric Hornqvist (multi-year), Nick Spaling (doesn't really matter), and Seth Jones (ELC). The other two? A bargain bin free agent and a 4th round pick. I'm not sure if there's a more impressive body of work of a GM when it comes to assembling the top two lines than what David Poile has done since 2013. And don't even get us started on how awesome and affordable the defense is, aside from Weber's massive Powerball annuity.
That's a top six with 2 players on ELC's, two thirty-goal scorers this year, one player over 30, and the highest paid player is getting $5 million this year.
Again, this team has the cap room, has the roster and the youth that contributes, has the coach, and has a great tax structure in Tennessee. Aside from being located a fair ways away from college hockey territory and the Great Lakes, there aren't any visible excuses to most people on why playing in Nashville appears to be undesirable to people like us.
But there has to be something.
Agents, players, and GMs... they all talk to their peers. There has to be something that's keeping players away. The low-hanging fruit is the location, lack of postseason success, and being in Nashville- a new sports market. There aren't a whole lot of current NHL prospects who grew up wanting to be a Predator, and it'll take a long time before that's even a discussion topic.
If anyone from 501 Broadway is reading this, what would it take for you folks to get Vanderbilt or Belmont on board with a D1 hockey team? The investment would pay off in the long run (I hope). Just a thought.
When the Red Wings were loading up on cup runs, they were able to sign anyone they wanted over 30. They took care of veteran players, and they were known for being a good place to play and finish careers. When Mark Cuban took over the Dallas Mavericks, he did a great job on the fan experience as well as the player experience. The Mavericks weren't able to do much before Cuban. Cuban bought the team in 2000. Up until the start of the 2000-2001 season, the Mavericks had a 40% winning percentage. Since that season? 65.9%, and they've won an NBA title over LeBron. A franchise that's been a laughing stock for much of their life eventually became a destination franchise, due to a savvy owner and a stable roster.
The California and Florida teams, and even the Stars and Blues have had much better success over the years landing free agents, and even Columbus has landed a few big fish. If it's as simple as the stain of playing in the Barry Trotz system or a lack of playoff success, that may fall away soon. If its something to do with regional preference, that will take a long while. If it's market size, that's not changing anytime real soon. But over the coming years, Nashville will have the chance at locking up some real elite level talent on offense for a long time. There's no excuse to balk in that area. And in addition, I'd like to see the organization take a look at the player experience here, and do more to reward the guys who are sticking around.
If you don't believe me on the player experience being important, the current New York Islanders roster might disagree.
Let's do the news.
Nashville Predators News & Notes
The Predators will lose consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Feb. 2-4.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 30, 2016
NHL - Morning 3-on-3 -- Nashville Predators draftee Jimmy Vesey will test free agency | ESPN
I can't see many people that are really upset at the fact Vesey deciding to go free agency, but it's how it happened that upset folks. Especially if it went down the way Poile and company said it did.
Marek Vs. Wyshynski: Angry yelling about Jimmy Vesey; Ken Daniels on Detroit (Podcast) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
They spent a LOT of time on Nashville.
Other NHL Stuff
Blue notes: Bouwmeester may have a concussion | Blues | stltoday.com
The Blues cannot stay healthy, pt. 1.
No update on Fabbri following 3-1 win over Colorado - KMOV.com
This looked rough on camera. The Blues cannot stay healthy, pt. 2.
NHL -- Why did Paul Bissonnette jump off Twitter? | ESPN
I do miss BizNasty, but I agree with him. Twitter is a loaded gun.
Capitals No. 1, Penguins rising in NHL Power Rankings - Article - TSN
"The Predators only have three regulation losses in the past 22 games, yet the only thing anyone is talking about now is how they have been spurned by 2012 third-round pick Jimmy Vesey..." Guess where they slotted Nashville.
Blackhawks reinstate Ross after 'revenge porn' charges dropped | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
So what happens if the alleged victim files suit in Michigan? They'll suspend him again?
Bettman and Coyotes President Leblanc met with potential stakeholders to discuss new arena | ProHockeyTalk
PLEASE choose downtown. Please.
Quick Bite: Logan Couture bags first hat trick as Sharks beat Canucks - Fear The Fin
The Sharks are doing Shark things, and cruising into the playoffs. That series with the Ducks? Get excited.
Bahn signs with the Wildcats | HendersonvilleStandard.com
Today's must read, and it's a good one!
The USMNT Are Who We Thought They Were | Deadspin
An accidental 4-0 win. Sure.