Poile named 2017 GM of the Year

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Just moments after it was announced that Predators forward James Neal would be the newest member of the Vegas Golden Knights, Nashville General Manager David Poile was awarded the 2017 GM of the Year Award. And, by looking at the votes, it was no contest:

1. David Poile, NSH 112 (18-6-4)
2. Peter Chiarelli, EDM 52 (6-5-7)
3. Pierre Dorion, OTT 46 (2-10-6)
4. Lou Lamoriello, TOR 36 (5-3-2)
5. Bob Murray, ANA 36 (3-5-6)

General Manager from the very beginning, it was high time GMDP was awarded this great honor, but it couldn’t have come at a more unpleasant time directly after Neal was lost. But, beyond that little sad nugget, congrats to David Poile! Despite this frustrating moment in time, you have to give props to ‘The Magician’ (see: Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban).

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Preds release NHL Expansion Draft Protected List

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UPDATE: More players have been added to the exposed list as of 11:20AM CST.

After pushing the release of the lists back by thirty minutes, the NHL officially allowed us commoners to see who teams protected… and who they did not. By no surprise, the great debate between James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok has left the Real Deal exposed along with a few others that were expected.

Exposed Players:

  • James Neal
  • Matt Irwin
  • Colton Sissons
  • Craig Smith
  • Colin Wilson
  • Cody McLeod
  • Yannick Weber
  • Marek Mazanec
  • Pontus Aberg
  • Cody Bass
  • Vernon Fiddler (UFA)
  • Mike Fisher (UFA)
  • P.A. Parenteau (UFA)
  • Adam Payerl
  • Mike Ribeiro
  • Miikka Salomaki
  • Trevor Smith
  • Austin Watson
  • Harry Zolnierczyk
  • Taylor Aronson
  • Anthony Bitetto
  • Stefan Elliott
  • Brad Hunt
  • Andew O’Brien
  • Adam Pardy
  • Petter Granberg
  • Jaynen Rissling
  • Scott Valentine

Protected Players:

  • Viktor Arvidsson
  • Filip Forsberg
  • Calle Jarnkrok
  • Ryan Johansen
  • Mattias Ekholm
  • Ryan Ellis
  • Roman Josi
  • P.K. Subban
  • Pekka Rinne

If you are freaking out about Neal (or anyone else) being exposed, as I mentioned in my previous post, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s headed to Vegas. Now that the exposed players have been released, teams can negotiate trades between the Golden Knights to attempt to protect these particular players. However, David Poile will more than likely have an uphill battle when it comes to negotiating with Las Vegas General Manager George McPhee (see Erat/Latta for Forsberg trade).

Wondering about Nashville’s other players? Here’s the list of the Predators’ exempt players from the Expansion Draft:

  • Kevin Fiala
  • Frederick Gaudreau
  • Vladislav Kamenev
  • Juuse Saros

UPDATE: It has now been acknowledged that Pontus Aberg, Mike Fisher, P.A. Parenteau, Vernon Fiddler, and Petter Granberg are not exempt from the expansion draft. It is important to note that Fisher, Fiddler, and Parenteau are all free agents, which means Vegas could go ahead and sign these players (the rest of the league has to wait until July 1st). However, if Vegas were to sign one of Nashville’s free agents, that would count as their expansion draft pick leaving the rest of the exposed players (like Neal, Watson, and Aberg) to stay with Nashville.

To see who the other teams in the league protected and exposed, here is the list from the NHL. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think GMDP can manage to work out a deal to save Neal? Whatever the case, there is no denying that George McPhee has the best seat in the house for this expansion draft and is soaking up every second of it.

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Preds sign Jarnkrok to 6-Year Contract

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Moments ago, the Nashville Predators announced that they and Calle Jarnkrok’s camp have agreed to a 6-year, $12M contract. Here’s the official word from the team:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Tuesday that the club has signed forward Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year, $12 million contract. The contract will pay him $1.7 million in 2016-17, $1.8 million in 2017-18, $2.1 million in 2018-19, $2.2 million in 2019-20 and 2020-21, and $2 million in 2021-22.

Jarnkrok, 24 (9/25/91), appeared in all but one of Nashville’s 2015-16 regular-season games, more than doubling his previous career high in goals (16), as well as setting personal bests in assists (14) and points (30). The Gavle, Sweden, native also ranked second on the Preds in game-winning goals (4) a season ago, and saw his year-over-year average ice time increase by 3:17. In 167 career NHL contests since joining the Predators via trade on March 5, 2014, Jarnkrok has amassed 57 points (25g-32a) and played in all 20 of the team’s postseason contests, recording three assists.

Detroit’s second choice, 51st overall (second round), in the 2010 Entry Draft, Jarnkrok has represented Sweden in five international competitions in the last eight years, winning a gold medal at the 2013 World Championship and earning a bronze at the 2014 World Championship. Prior to making the jump to North America for the 2012-13 season, the 6-foot-1, 186-pound forward helped Brynas win the 2012 Le Mat Trophy as Swedish league champions on a team that also included Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm, and was a finalist for the 2011 Swedish league rookie of the year (won by Ekholm).

As exciting as this is, there is speculation that Jarnkrok – unless protected by the organization – has a significant chance for being picked up by Las Vegas when it’s time for them to put together their team. But let’s not discuss those speculations and just enjoy the beauty that is the mane of Calle Jarnkrok.

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Preds buyout Jackman Contract

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Image Source: The Tennessean

So who all woke up this morning thinking the Weber/Subban trade was all a dream? Yeah, it’s still hard to wrap your mind around and it’ll be a while before it all sinks in. But, while you continue to process that information, the Predators camp is far from settling down.

Early this afternoon, it was announced that the Predators bought out the contract of veteran defenseman Barret Jackman. Jackman (35), who was signed to a two-year, $4 million contract on July 1, 2015, spent his first 16 years with Central Division rival St. Louis Blues. With this buyout, the Predators now have around $9.3 million in available cap space, which could mean additional assets are on the horizon (free agency starts tomorrow).

Jackman’s buyout came as a surprise to just about everyone as he brought an exceptional veteran presence to not only the ice, but off ice as well. This move, as mentioned above, could signify that David Poile has his eye on someone special.

Though he was part of the organization for less than a year (by one day), Barret Jackman played a significant role with Nashville and its push towards the Cup. I wish him well in his future with the league and/or beyond.

Preds Acquire 3rd-Round Pick for Vesey Rights

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Not that any Predators fan is upset by this, but Nashville and the Buffalo Sabres organization came to an agreement this afternoon to trade the rights of Jimmy Vesey for a 3rd-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

Vesey, who won the 2016 Hobey Baker Memorial Award (presented to the outstanding collegiate hockey player), was drafted 66th overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2012 NHL Draft and was going to be quite the star forward for Music City…

Until right around the 2016 NHL trade deadline. To avoid beating a dead horse, basically it came down to a he said/she said conundrum. GM David Poile was claiming that Vesey and his agent (and his dad) agreed to join the Predators organization, while Vesey’s side was claiming the opposite. Either way, it rubbed Predators fans wrong, which it honestly should have. Probably not to the lengths that some people went to, but it’s always slightly embarrassing and frustrating when you have a player that decides he doesn’t want to play for your chosen organization. It may have just been business, but nobody likes to feel rejected.

Anyways, Buffalo now has Vesey’s rights, which is now their issue to work with while Nashville gains a 3rd-round pick. Who knows, Vesey may choose to sign with Buffalo, due in part to fellow Bostonian Jack Eichel being on the roster. Whatever happens, both Nashville and Buffalo have much to smile about and that is always good business. The 2016 NHL Draft will be held June 24th-25th in – surprise – Buffalo, New York.

Preds Re-Sign Forward Cody Bass

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Image Source: The Tennessean

Earlier this afternoon the Predators organization and Cody Bass came to a contract agreement to re-sign the 29-year-old forward to a two-year, two-way deal. Here’s the official word from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the club has signed forward Cody Bass to a two-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 at the AHL level in 2016-17, and $650,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 at the AHL level in 2017-18.

Bass, 29 (1/7/87), split his first season in the Nashville organization between the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals (39gp, 4g-5a-9pts, 84 PIMs) and the Predators (17gp, 0pts, 17 PIMs), while also suiting up for six of the team’s seven games during their Round One series victory over the Anaheim Ducks. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward has appeared in 66 career NHL contests with Nashville, Ottawa and Columbus since 2007-08, posting five points (2g-3a) and 88 penalty minutes, and 370 career AHL games with Milwaukee, Binghamton, Springfield and Rockford, posting 98 points (41g-57a) and 794 penalty minutes. The Owen Sound, Ontario, native has served as an alternate captain at the AHL level in five of the past six seasons, and won the 2011 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as presented annually to the AHL’s man of the year for service to his local community. He also helped Binghamton win the 2011 Calder Cup.

Bass’s return to the Nashville hockey club comes as no surprise; at least to some of us.

With the departure of veterans Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom, Bass will play a pivotal role as younger wingers make their move up to the big league meaning I do not believe he is the solution, but rather an answer for the time being. However, Bass does provide a positive feel amongst his teammates, which is always a good thing for sure. Of course, while he is a friendly little fellow in the locker room, we are mostly familiar with his enforcer-like attitude on the ice:

How could we forget when former Nashville Predator Rich Clune poked the bear because we was irked Bass took his old number?

Off-Season Presser: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Nashville Predators v New Jersey Devils

Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay duke it out and St. Louis and San Jose press on, here in Nashville our thoughts are focused on off-season changes. General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette met with the media today to address trials and tribulations of the 2015-16 season, post season, and what should be expected from the organization through the off-season and into the next season.

Both Poile and Laviolette addressed the disappoint Game 7 loss against the San Jose Sharks, but praised the city of Nashville for the passion shown for the team throughout the playoff push:

While the disappointing loss still stings just a wee bit, most have moved onto more pressing matters such as the status of certain players. From the presser today, this is what we know:

  • Paul Gaustad will not be returning. A 34-year-old UFA, it was only a matter of time before Gaustad was replaced with a younger center.
  • Colton Sissons may be that replacement. Totted as Gaustad’s “heir apparent” in the conference today by David Poile, Sissons notched four goals and two assists this past season, which earned him some playoff time as well.
  • Eric Nystrom will either be bought out or traded. Yes, the Nystrom Show will have to find another host (and another name) next season. While in his first season he notched 21 points (15 of which were goals) in 2013-14, the past two seasons haven’t been as fruitful (just 19 points combined). Needless to say, Poile would like to attempt a trade with another organization, but will not hesitate to buy out the 36-year-old to free up space for someone younger.
  • Poile would like to keep Carter Hutton. Well yeah, me too, Poile (thanks for having me guys), but thinking from a hockey standpoint, it may be time to bring up either Marek Mazanec or Juuse Saros to possibly become – dare I say – Pekka’s replacement. It wouldn’t be the worst decision ever if Poile and Hutton’s agent can come to an agreement, but anything more than a year might be pushing it for the young guns lying in wait.
  • Contract negotiations: Calle Jarnkrok. David Poile mentioned that he hopes to begin contract negotiations with Jarnkrok “right away”. Jarnkrok, who was Nashville’s gain in a trade with Detroit for David Legwand, has proven his worth within the organization; perhaps it’s because he’s Swedish. Swedes are good. I mean, the kid missed one game in the regular season and totaled 30 points. Saying he’s worth having around is truly an understatement.
  • Contract negotiations: Filip Forsberg. Well, there’s no doubt somehow, someway, David Poile and Filip Forsberg will come to an agreement on a contract this off-season… and possibly a lengthy one at that.
  • Gabriel Bourque has an update. Yes, Gabriel Bourque. Injured back in November, Bourque has been working hard to get back into the lineup but a persistent UBI has kept him sidelined. Per Poile, Bourque has seen some improvement (noted that he could’ve hit the lineup if the Preds had made the Western Conference Finals) and hopes to find him a place with the team in the future.
  • Cody Bass will be re-signed. With Nystrom and Gaustad out of the future picture, Bass will be needed to fill that void on the fourth-line. Not exactly known for being a huge scorer, his presence is certainly felt both on and off the ice in positive aspects, so – as mentioned – he will be needed in the near future.
  • Ribeiro has some work to do. David Poile noted that Mike Ribeiro will need to have the “summer of his life” this off-season. I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Poile.

So, there you have it. Hopefully that was enough Predators information to last you for a little while until your cravings start to hit again. If you aren’t too familiar with the off-season, it stays rather busy. The 2016 NHL Draft will be held on June 24-25, which will bring plenty of buzz before and after the picks are in.

Preds recall Stefan Elliott

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Late this afternoon the Nashville Predators announced that they have recalled defenseman Stefan Elliott from the Milwaukee Admirals:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the club has recalled defenseman Stefan Elliott from Milwaukee (AHL) under emergency conditions. He will wear No. 7 for the club.

Elliott, 25 (1/30/91), has 24 points (8g-16a) in 82 career NHL contests with Colorado and Arizona since the 2011-12 season. Prior to being acquired by the Predators on Jan. 15, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound blueliner notched six points (2g-4a) in 19 games with the Coyotes, and since the trade, he has 17 points (6g-11a) in 29 AHL games with the Admirals. Colorado’s third selection, 49th overall (second round), in the 2009 Entry Draft was a 2015 AHL All-Star, the 2011 recipient of the Bill Hunter Trophy as the WHL’s top defenseman and the 2009 CHL Scholastic Player of the Year while with the Saskatoon Blades.

ICYMI, the 25-year-old defenseman has been recalled in time to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night due to Ryan Ellis suffering an upper-body injury in last night’s game against the Dallas Stars.

As you can see from this .gif, there’s no doubting why Ellis left the game last night. Ouch. While I am not sure how serious this injury is, I can assume he’ll be out for a few games – possibly the remainder of the regular season, which consists of just five more games.

The Predators will have their third chance to clinch a playoff spot tomorrow night with a win over the 43-25-8 Penguins. Also, if the Avalanche lose to the Presidents Cup-winning Capitals Friday, that will also give Nashville a spot in the playoffs.

Vesey shuns Nashville; Seeks UFA

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Image Source: Google

Say it ain’t so, Joe Jimmy! #VeseyWatch is officially over as the Predators’ third round 2012 NHL Draft pick has chosen to go the route of unrestricted free agency instead of joining Nashville. TSN reporter Bob McKenzie was the first to break the news:

As you can imagine, the Preds Twitterverse was raging at this news with some people showing no surprise whatsoever, and others completely baffled.

While I wasn’t too surprised by this announcement, it was still very disappointing. As much as I think the Predators are doing fine without him and – who knows – adding him might throw off the chemistry and kill any chance of a deep playoff run (the kid has never seen a slice of NHL ice time), it is still frustrating to know Nashville will get nothing for drafting him.

It became even more frustrating when David Poile called an impromptu press conference during the first intermission regarding Vesey’s choice to wait out UFA.

“On Wednesday, we received a call that they were thinking about free agency. This was the first time that had ever been told to anyone in our organization. At that point, we kind of asked why and they just said it was the attraction of free agency. I said that I felt that this was a complete 180 and that I’d to have a meeting with Jimmy, his family, and his representatives. [I] spoke with his dad, I believe it was on Thursday, who seemed to be very much in favor of his son signing in Nashville and agreed to have a meeting sometime when the season was over. We called the agents and told them that Paul Fenton (Assistant GM) and I would come up to the game with Scott Nichol (Director of Player Development) on Friday to cheer Jimmy on. We met with the agents for about an hour up in Boston where we went over all their feelings and they thought it was good that we came up. [We] talked about a lot of things. We asked for a meeting and they said they would talk to Jimmy about that and hopefully we would have a meeting.

Paul Fenton and I came back here [Nashville] on Saturday. Scott Nichol stayed there in Boston because we invited Jimmy and his family and his representatives to come to Nashville whether he was signed or not, whether it be Saturday, Monday. Or, if not, Paul Fenton and I were going to go back to Boston to meet with all of them Tuesday. There’s been a lot of conversations, but never once did we ever get together to have a meeting.

Every indication was that he was going to sign with us. His dad had told me, Peter Laviolette, Scott Nichol, and Paul Fenton that his son was going to sign with us. And Jimmy himself told Paul Fenton prior to the trade deadline, which was an important time for us because it was our last opportunity to change our team. We told him if he was going to sign with us we were going to keep a position available for him, and he told us that he was going to sign with us.

So, for whatever reason, and after all the time and resources that we invested in Jimmy Vesey’s development, we could not get a meeting with Jimmy, his family, and his representatives all together. That’s the only thing I asked for after Wednesday and they would not accommodate us on that.”

The last two paragraphs from Poile’s press conference are what you need to take away from this. Both Jimmy and his father told David Poile that he [Vesey] would be signing with Nashville. Although Nashville made a move early before the Trade Deadline with the Jones/Johansen trade, Poile’s comments indicate that the organization would have possibly made more moves before the deadline, but were going by Vesey’s word that he would sign with the team once his season was over with Harvard.

Another important quote to take away from this presser is:

Now, take this information with a grain of salt. This does not mean Toronto or Boston or whoever put a little bug in his ear, but – on the other hand – who is to say they did not. Unrestricted Free Agency is a tasty little deal, but there is no denying Jimmy would’ve been given the best deal if he signed with Nashville. An automatic top 6 position in the lineup, playoff time, and the chance to burn a year on his entry-level contract? Yeah, there’s no doubt – if Jimmy wanted the best deal – he received bad advice, but if it really is all about the idea of signing wherever he wants, then here’s to hoping every team grovels at his feet for him to join.

Hockey is a business and the kid certainly has the right to change his mind, even after making all these lovely promises to the Predators organization. However, with business comes reputation and well, this making promises then tucking tail and not facing the music is a bit… sleazy. If he did honestly change his mind, he and his agents needed to man-up and explain their case to Nashville. That’s just my opinion, but I have a feeling some others would agree.

Honestly, I cannot blame the kid for seeking a chance to go wherever he wants, but I do not like how the negotiations were handled – or lack thereof. Vesey may want to find another set of agents, because their actions can reflect poorly on him and his character.

David Poile and his team still have rights to Vesey until August 15th, so the Predators GM claims he will continue to persuade Vesey to join the Predators organization. In my opinion, Nashville has plenty of up-and-coming talent in Milwaukee that should have a shot a the NHL, especially since these guys have already shown commitment to the Predators organization. If Vesey really wants to stay in Boston or play under the supervision of his father in Toronto, I say let him. The toughest part for Nashville is this loophole where players can go off to college or Europe and, after four years, hit UFA. And what does that team get after drafting the kid? Nothing. But that, my friends, is fight for another day.

Preds crush Blues 5-0

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Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There’s no doubt St. Louis Blues fans travel well; at least to Nashville, anyway. And, with it being a rare Saturday afternoon game, there was certainly no shortage of Blues fans in the Bridgestone Arena for today’s match up. As I heard a St. Louis fan near me, “Well, looks like St. Louis’ll have the home advantage tonight!” I couldn’t help but giggle as the Predators silenced the Blues travelers from the moment the puck dropped.

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the victory over Chicago in the United Center, Pekka Rinne has undoubtedly regained his groove and today’s game only helped solidify this notion. While Nashville certainly came out with more fire than the Blues both offensively and defensively, Rinne was still put to the test several times. Notching his fourth shutout this season, Rinne put a stop to all 28 shots on goal from the St. Louis Blues, while his fellow teammates snagged four goals on Jake Allen and one on backup Pheonix (yes, that’s spelled correctly) Copley. Attributing to Rinne’s rebound is Carter Hutton’s impressive performance of late, which has given Pekka a chance to rest — something he’s needed desperately. With division-leading Dallas coming in Tuesday, Rinne will certainly need to be net, but Hutton should definitely be called to lead against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

Moving on to goal scoring, Craig Smith would get Nashville started early in the game, notching his 14th goal of the season at 5:39. Mike Ribeiro (34) and Filip Forsberg (20) would collect the assists. Smith’s goal would be the only snagged in the first period, but that didn’t mean there was a lack of momentum by a long shot.

The man of the hour, Filip Forsberg, would essentially own the second period, collecting his second natural hat trick in this week alone. That’s a feat that hasn’t be done since Peter Bondra did it in eight games back in the 1987-88 season. Yeah, I wasn’t even born yet and Forsberg wasn’t even a glimmer in his mother’s eye. Naturally, this was also a first in Predators history as Forsberg is the first to register multiple hat tricks in one season.

I have to hand it to you, Mr. Poile. Martin Erat, who demanded a trade to anywhere as long as he could get out of Nashville (so he could have a chance to win a Stanley Cup) is now sitting on six goals with Omsk Avangard in the KHL. Nashville snagged a questionable rookie from Washington who turned out to be arguably one of the best forwards in the league while Erat mustered a total of two goals with Washington before demanding to be traded from there, too. As long as Forsberg continues to perform in the manner that he is, I’d hang my hat on this trade too, David Poile.

Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg aren’t the only two to score today for Nashville, oh no. The long awaited goal from Colin Wilson came at 4:37 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Wilson’s name has been pretty prominent of late, mostly due to being involved with trade talks; more specifically, a trade between he and former Predator Scott Hartnell. While only one reputable source has mentioned this trade with some sort of seriousness, as of 8:50PM, neither team has budged. Of course, Kevin Fiala’s name has been brought up in the rumors as well, but until some big names start shuffling the news, I am not reporting it. Any who, Colin Wilson was definitely due and collecting Nashville’s 5-0 game winning goal may be the boost he needs to find his groove. Rinne found his, after all, and it looks like Craig Smith is, too.

With this win, Nashville is now just six points behind the Blues and just eight points behind Chicago. Also, the Predators have the best record in the Central Division for the month of February: 7-3-3.  It is funny to think that this time last year, Nashville had hit their seasonal rut and were slowly losing their hold of the League and Central Division. Sadly, as we are all very much aware, Nashville could not get out of the rut in time to clinch the Central Division after holding it for so long.

As Nashville pulls itself together just in time for the playoff run, the organization isn’t going to find itself with many chances to relax. Division-leading Dallas comes in Tuesday, then its a bout with the Devils Thursday, then Nashville takes off on a five-game road trip out west. But this is the best the Predators have looked all season. Be excited. The road to the playoffs comes fast.