Sunday, June 29, 2008


It’s been a busy month around the Predators Front Office with signings, trades, mock drafts, draft parties and a fresh crop of baby Preds coming in town to test out their legs on NHL ice. Here’s a rundown of the events that have taken place over the last few weeks:

June 3rd and June 11th – Predators Front Office holds a Mock Draft with a select few season ticket holders as well as members of the local media. The first night was used as an informative/brainstorming session to set our draft boards before “Draft Day” on June 11th. I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend this event and enjoyed every second of it. It was a great experience and one I hope they will think about offering again in the future. The seven of us STH were basically the “guinea pigs” for the Preds as they had never done something like this before. I, of course, had to ask their reasoning behind doing it at all. I was told that someone thought it would be fun to see who we as fans would pick if we were in charge of the draft picks. They weren’t sure if they were going to offer the chance to do it again in the coming years but I made sure to let them know I’d be down for it if they decided to try it again. I think there was a little more to the story (based on some other conversations I had with a few of the front office people) but I’ll let them stick to the “fun experience” idea because honestly, a good time was had by all.

June 16th – Defensemen Ryan Suter signed to a four year/$14 million contract. Based on all the rumors going around, I was a little surprised that Ryan decided on such a long contract. However, you can’t ever believe all the rumors you hear and all in all, this was a great signing that shows we’re on our way to really solidifying a core group of guys that we can count on for years to come.

June 19th – First trade of the off-season. Forward Darcy Hordichuk was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a fifth round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. This didn’t come as much of a surprise to me because Darcy was one of about five interchangeable third/fourth line forwards. He was our other fighter and I was enjoyed his fisticuffs better than Tootoo’s so I’ll miss him for that bit of entertainment value. He and his wife were also huge fans of the city of Nashville (so much so that they got married here last year instead of in Canada) so I’m sure it will be a little bittersweet to move on. I wish him the best of luck with Carolina.

June 20th – This year’s draft day equaled a dream come true for me as the most surprising transaction thus far was executed by trading goaltender Chris Mason to the St. Louis Blues for a fourth round pick. This opened up a bit more space in our salary cap and allowed us to extend a two year/$3.5 million contract to Dan Ellis. I honestly did not expect David Poile to make this happen as it seems almost too good to be true. I am a tiny bit weary of the decision if only because it gives me a sense of déjà vu based on what happened last year with our goalies. Granted, this year it was definitely our choice to trade away a netminder but let’s hope the same situation with the starting goalie getting stage-fright doesn’t happen again next season.

June 23rd – The lingering doubts that anyone had about whether or not we would be able to keep Shea Weber around were squelched with the Front Office announcement of the three year/$13.5 million deal. With this signing came a huge sigh of relief for most Predators fans as we can rest assured that the organization is building on the good we already had by keeping all the key players. With both the Suter and Weber signings, we also left the ball in our court when their current contracts expire since they will still be RFA’s at the end of each of their deals.

June 24th – June 30th – Prospect camp is held for this year’s draft picks as well as a few other select invitees. I was able to sneak a peek during practice on Friday and our first draft pick overall, Colin Wilson, looked really good out there. I’m anxious to see him again at training camp because I think he is really going to try and fight his way into the lineup for the coming season. We don’t normally make it a habit to incorporate draft picks into the normal rotation, but I could see Wilson impressing the coaches enough to change that habit. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to September.

June 26th – Qualifying offers are extended to Matt Ellison, Triston Grant (acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers organization for defensemen Janne Niskala on June 24th), Kevin Klein, Ville Koistinen and Rich Peverley. Ellison and Grant spent last season with the AHL while Klein and Koistinen were on the Predators roster for the entire ’07-’08 season. Peverley is the only player to have split his time between both the AHL and the NHL, helping the Predators in their push towards the playoffs and showing the coaches that he was NHL-ready. I still stand by my opinion that Klein will be one of the first to go. I do hope that Koistinen will be willing to stick around and hope for more ice time next season. As much as I would like to have Peverley around next year, I still think he might try his hand with another team, if someone makes an offer. I don’t know much about Ellison or Grant so I won’t make any speculations on their behalf. (Note to self: learn more about AHL players next season).

After breaking it all down, a lot more happened this month than I originally thought. David Poile has been working his butt off and I couldn't be happier. Now I really can't wait until September.

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