The Predators made some key moves before and on July 1st, the day that Free Agency went into effect. Though many eyes are watching the Suter and/or Parise situation, the Predators weren’t going to hold off until #20 finally came to a decision.
On Friday, just two days before his chance at Free Agency, Nashville signed the Goliath himself, Hal Gill to a two-year, $4 million contract, sealing himself to Predators gold for the 2012-13 season. With the size, strength (and surprisingly a bit of speed – when he gets moving), Gill will continue to shine alongside Roman Josi for two more years.
Fairly late last night, Nashville released the news of the signing of another trade deadliner – Paul Gaustad. Obviously, Poile recognized his expertise in Face Offs and Penalty Kills, signing Goose to a four-year, $12 million contract. Wowza. There is much debate about wether Nashville overpaid for Gaustad, but his last contract was for $9.2 million; of course he wasn’t going to go for anything less. Plus, Gaustad’s consistency rules him as a green flag for Nashville; something they’ll really need if Suter bails.
The Predators decided, for their first ever July 1st signing, to chose goalie (and former Predator) Chris Mason to a one-year, $1.25 million contract as a backup for Pekka Rinne. Though many were lead to believe Milwaukee’s Jeremy Smith was going to jump over to Nashville and cover Rinne, Poile did not lie when he said he wanted a veteran goalie to take the backup position. However, one-year contracts can mean many a thing; Wether Nashville brought Mason back aboard to help get Smith ready to take over or what, we don’t think Mason will be with Nashville very long. The Predators have never had a veteran backup before, so it will prove interesting to see how Mason will do behind the Finnish phenom.
And, as of a few moments ago, Brian McGrattan posted an excited tweet about returning to Nashville (to counteract a previous disheartening announcement from Jordin Tootoo…). The Predators confirmed that they did, in fact, sign enforcer Brian McGrattan to a one-year, $600,000 contract to wear the gold once again in the 2012-13 season. With Tootoo’s signing with Detroit (we’ll have a whole separate post about that one), it seems like Big Ern will be the new favorite of the Predators. After being picked up in October of last year, Preds fans fell in love with the big guy, thanks to his beloved antics, wild fights, and heartbreaking struggles off the ice. Like we said, McGrattan will be replacing Toots very quickly as everyone’s favorite tough guy.
As of 8:30, that is all Nashville has locked in for certain, but Ryan Suter watch is still having some of us bite our nails until the bitter end. As we mentioned earlier, Jordin Tootoo split for Detroit, leaving a bunch of bewildered, speechless fans in his wake. Like we said, we’ll have a complete post dedicated to his “unjustified” decision momentarily. Besides Tootoo, Nashville said au revoir to veteran Francis Bouillon, as the Montreal Canadiens took him back for a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Bouillon is a bit of a hometown hero in Montreal, so returning to Canada is a welcoming sign for the Cube. He was a class act in Nashville and we wish him all the best with the Habs.
It’s getting late, but the night’s not over; anything is bound to happen now that the free agents are on the loose. Stay tuned for more information with the Predators as it comes through the media.