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 lose Neal to Expansion Draft

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Image Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Well, as soon as it was announced that Calle Jarnkrok was protected by Nashville to leave Neal exposed to the Expansion Draft, we knew it would be coming. We could easily argue both sides of the coin, but let’s be honest: losing James Neal is a difficult pill to swallow. Even with young guns like Pontus Aberg and Colton Sissons out in the water, exposing a veteran power forward with a ton of gas still left in the tank was just too tempting to pass up for the Vegas Golden Knights. The loss of James Neal will free up $5M in cap space for the Predators, but that doesn’t take the sting out, does it?

We will have more information from the organization once it becomes available.

 

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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Jarnkrok makes Preds protected list

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

While the notion has been floating in the back of our minds since the announcement of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, those backing the Nashville Predators were focused on more in-the-moment matters as of late. Alas, the time as come for all (current) thirty teams to expose a player to the Expansion Draft whether they were ready to or not. While some teams opted to trade around, the Predators either remained silent on the matter or couldn’t get one sorted out. Either way, the expansion draft is not going to necessarily be kind to Nashville, though there are ways to lessen the blow.

Although names like Colin Wilson and Craig Smith have been tossed around, ultimately it seemed as if it came solely down between Calle Jarnkrok and James Neal. While Neal’s contract will be more extensive (expensive) in the future, one could offset that case with his dependability (and goal scoring). But, as we all know, it isn’t all about goals… I guess. Another reason why David Poile is the GM and not me.

Long story short, Adam Vingan of The Tennessean reported earlier this afternoon that Calle Jarnkrok’s agent stated that the young center was on Nashville’s protected list from the expansion. While the Twitterverse collectively freaked out (understandably), that does not ultimately mean that James Neal will be donning a Golden Knights jersey come this October. However, we will all find out just who was exposed and who was protected tomorrow morning at 10AM when the NHL reveals the protected list.

As you mull that over, let’s remember some key dates coming up in the extremely near future:

  • June 18: Protected List revealed to public @ 10AM
  • June 20: New Adidas jerseys unveiled
  • June 21: NHL Expansion Draft & NHL Awards
  • June 21: 2017-18 Home Openers Announced
  • June 22: 2017-18 Schedule Released @ 2PM
  • June 23 & 24: NHL Draft
  • June 26: Deadline for RFA Qualifying Offers
  • June 26-July 3: Preds Development Camp
  • July 1: Free Agency Begins
  • September 7: Preds Rookie Camp Opens
  • September 14: Training Camp Opens

Vladislav Kamenev called up by NSH

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Image Source: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Nashville’s second round draft pick (42nd overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft may just make his NHL debut this evening against the Florida Panthers. The Predators announced earlier this afternoon that Vladislav Kamenev, the 6’2″ Russian center, was called up from the Milwaukee Admirals due to injury involving James Neal (upper-body, missed last night’s game in Tampa), Viktor Arvidsson, and Mike Ribeiro (both left the game yesterday with undisclosed injuries).

The 20-year-old currently flies second in goals this season for the Admirals, with nine goals and fifteen assists. Center Trevor Smith leads him by one with 10 goals, eleven assists.

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Jarnkrok pushes Predators over Blues 3-1

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Image Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Show of hands as to how many of us thought the first winning streak would come in mid-November? Okay, so there’s no doubt we all thought Nashville would have at least more than one back-to-back set of wins by now, but that is just one of the fun things about the regular season. Perhaps it is due to the fact that there was so much hype coming into the season regarding this team that, without perceived perfection, fans can’t help but think the 2016-17 season is doomed. Well, good news; it isn’t. We are on game 13 of an 82 game season. Nashville is fine.

Granted, that doesn’t make the 5-5-3 record Nashville is totting around anything to be gloating about. But the team has been addressing its issues and last night’s win against the 7-5-3 St. Louis Blues could be chalked up as a testament to this improvement.

While the first and second periods looked a bit out of sync (which allowed Jaden Schwartz to tally his third goal of the season), it took a wrister from Calle Jarnkrok at the end of the second period to give the home team some confidence. Jarnkrok’s wrister, assisted by Colin Wilson & (surprise) Matt Irwin, was his first of the season.

When the Predators hit the ice for the third period, the group looked much more put-together and, dare I say, like a well-oiled machine. After a clean connecting pass from Mike Ribeiro, James Neal collected his fourth goal of the season with a secondary assist from Pontus Aberg (who notched his very first NHL point). Not even a minute later, Calle Jarnkrok picked up his goal of the night (and season) at 4:50, slipping it past former Predators goaltender, Carter Hutton. Nashville would hang onto the lead for the remainder of regulation, giving the Predators their first winning streak of the season.

Pekka Rinne continues to be “the eraser” that he is, but he needs the rest of his team to jump on that consistency train. Personally, I am not worried about this team just yet. As I stated, last night’s tilt was game 13 of 82; Nashville has time to figure out what the issues are and get them fixed. However, they can’t put that on the back-burner and coast to the playoffs by any means.

Nashville welcomes in the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday for a special Hockey Fights Cancer Night at 7PM. Anaheim’s current record is 7-5-3 and sits second in the Pacific Division, just two points behind Edmonton. While the win over St. Louis certainly boosted some much needed morale around Nashville, a continued streak over Anaheim could be what sets the Predators on a track of success.

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Josi & Neal Named Alternate Captains

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Image Source: Google Images

Moments ago (announced at the Nashville Sports Council Luncheon), the Predators organization revealed that James Neal and Roman Josi will serve as the Alternate Captains for the 2016-17 season.

While Neal has served as an alternate since joining the team in the 2014-15 season, this will be Josi’s first time donning a letter full time (served as the third alternate last season). Neal and Josi will stand behind Mike Fisher who takes on the role of captain this year after the trade of Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens during the off-season for defenseman P.K. Subban.

Fisher to replace Weber as Captain per Report

NHL: Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks

Image Source: Google Images

While the official announcement will be made tomorrow at 12:30PM by the organization, the news of who will become the seventh Captain of the Nashville Predators was released just moments ago.

In an exclusive reveal to The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan, the Predators have handed the ‘C’ to someone that comes as no surprise: veteran center Mike Fisher.

Traded to the Nashville Predators from the Ottawa Senators for a first round draft pick back in February of 2011, Fisher is on the verge of his sixth full season with the team. Though he has held assistant captain for both Ottawa and Nashville, Fisher has never – since being drafted in 1998 – held the status of captain… until now.

While Fisher’s future with the team remains questionable (retirement looms on the horizon), he is undoubtedly the most qualified for the role. He has held a leadership role throughout his tenure with the Predators and, while younger players – such as Josi and Neal – are starting to find their leadership styles, Fisher is still the man to look to when times get tough.

While I would’ve preferred waiting for the official word, it is still good to see Fisher will be seventh captain of the Nashville Predators.

O Captain, What Captain: Who will be the 7th Nashville Predators Captain?

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While checking out at Publix over the weekend, the kid manning the self-checkout station approached me about my P.K. Subban shirt. Yes, I’ve already purchased a Subban “shirtsey” because I am still giddy about this trade. He asked me about who would replace Shea Weber as captain and I mentioned a few options, but ultimately decided it was worth a post.

While this subject has been up for debate since the millisecond after it was announced Weber was shipping off to Montreal, it has been fun to see all the different speculations as to who might be presented with this significant role and title. But first, let’s talk about the roles of captain and alternate captain. While it is easy to assume that the more veteran players would be on the top of the list, that is not always the case. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is a prime example that age and (NHL) experience doesn’t always play a major factor when it comes to becoming the captain. Drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. It should also be noted that – though it’s nothing new to Nashville – being a part of one organization for years doesn’t automatically qualify you for the position (or alternate) either. Sorry Leggy.

Yet another option to consider? How about no captain at all. Yes, believe it or not, there are a few teams that spend their seasons without a designated leader. The Edmonton Oilers did not have a captain last season, just a rotation of four alternate captains. And, in a more wild and unlikely (but possible) scenario, there’s the chance that title could go to Pekka Rinne (who will be featured below). Back in the day (1920s-40s), being a goalie plus the captain wasn’t unheard of. Now? Well, the League hasn’t banned net-minders being the captain altogether, but they will not acknowledge this extended title. The last goaltender to be named captain was actually rather recently in 2008 when the Vancouver Canucks bestowed the title to Roberto Luongo. While the league would not allow him to perform on-ice duties or wear the iconic ‘C’ on his sweater, he did sneak a captain’s ‘C’ onto his mask. Luongo held his captaincy from 2008-2010 before handing the title to Henrik Sedin.

I write this all to say that anything is possible as to who may be the next captain of the Nashville Predators, but I have my beliefs that it will be Roman Josi. However, it’s fun to go through all the possibly candidates because… who knows? Plus, I miss hockey.

Possible Captain Candidates:

Josi

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Uh, because he’s Roman Josi? All kidding aside, Josi has shown an incredible amount of skill and poise both on and off the ice. While we’ve known of his capabilities for years, the rest of the league is finally taking notice. After being selected to the 2016 All-Star festivities this year, Josi was finally getting more attention has a competitive contender instead of just Shea Weber’s linemate. Being an integral part of the Predators organization, this would be the time to give Josi the reins and promote him to captain status.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I believe Josi has the greatest chance of becoming the next captain of the Nashville Predators, you cannot overlook Mike Fisher’s leadership and contributions to the team. I believe there is a slim chance they may give it to Fisher for a year and groom Josi into the position once Fisher retires.

 

Fisher

  • Why he should be Captain: Fisher has been an alternate captain since his first full season with the Predators in 2011-12. If you were to go by veteran presence alone, then Mike Fisher’s your guy. He is undoubtedly a leader both on the ice and off, thus transitioning into the captain’s role would make complete sense and would come easy to the center.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: As mentioned, Fisher’s role as captain would make total sense, but there is one thing to consider: his possible retirement. Not every NHL player is a Jaromir Jagr and 36-years-old is getting kind of up there in hockey years. That, and being a new father kind of puts other things into perspective on the family front as well (because we all know Carrie’s not slowing down for a while). If he were to retire after the 2016-17 season, that means the process of choosing another captain would be up for grabs after one year. Not a huge deal, as Kimmo Timonen served as captain for one season (2006-07), but why not go ahead and choose someone that has no plans of retiring any time soon? Now, I have no idea when Fisher plans to hang up his skates, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later (he does only have one season left on his contract).

Neal

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Neal has had a leadership role with the Predators ever since arriving to Nashville in the 2014-15 season and quickly became one of the notable faces of the franchise. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Neal would fall under the veteran status within the organization and this could be his time to step up within the team.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I don’t really have a reason as to why he would not do well as the captain, I just believe there are two better candidates on the team at this time. It is also important to note that Neal has a bit of a reputation with the officials and that does throw in a hindrance as well.

Alternate Captain Candidates:

I think it’s obvious that, if Roman Josi is named captain, the two alternate captains would continue to be Mike Fisher and James Neal. However, like last season, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne were names alternates although they did not wear the ‘A’ on their sweaters (no, goalies cannot wear an ‘A’ either). The players below are who I believe would be good candidates for alternate captain:

 

Rinne

 

  • Why he should be an Alternate: As we are all aware, Pekka is a positive dude and holds himself accountable for situations under his control (and even those not under his control). He keeps his cool and, on the rare occasion he does get upset, you know he’s serious. Goal-tending is an unique position that essentially requires you to have some kind of leadership skills and/or qualities; Pekka Rinne’s got that down pat and it is clear that the rest of team looks to him in times of need.

 

Johansen

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Though he’s facing his first full season with the Nashville Predators, I certainly see him as being a part of the leadership group. Johansen, like Neal, has a bit of an edge to him, but it’s an edge that makes him memorable in a good way. Although he is young, he does have the makings for a great leader and Nashville will be his home to perfect those qualities.

Forsberg

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Before the acquisition of P.K. Subban, there’s no doubting that Filip Forsberg was the most exciting player on the team (and he still could be). He’s young, well-spoken, level headed, and it’s clear that the Predators intend to push him as a franchise player.

Subban

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Not only has he held this role with the Montreal Canadiens, but he is also easily the most recognizable and marketable player on the team (before even laces up with the Predators). Enough said.

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  • Why he should be an Alternate: With an intensity on the ice, Ekholm has a knack for standing up for his fellow teammates in their time of need. This devotion to his team signifies a quality a leadership that his former captain was well known for.

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  • Why he should an Alternate: With the trading of Weber, Ryan Ellis has now found himself in almost a veteran position. As someone who has expressed leadership qualities well before his time with the Predators organization, it would only be natural for the 25-year-old defenseman to move up into a more defined leadership role.

So, to summarize all of this, I believe Roman Josi will be the seventh player to be named captain of the Nashville Predators, with Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne as the alternate captains. Should I have just said that from the get-go? Probably, but then this post wouldn’t have been so much fun (or taken me nearly as long). Do you have the same predictions or are you thinking something completely different? Well, we will all see soon enough.

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Preds force Game 7 against Sharks

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After losing 5-1 on Saturday in San Jose, Nashville found itself coming home to a do-or-die situation for Game 6. But this wouldn’t be the first Game 6 of the playoffs where the Predators were facing elimination. In the first round, Nashville jumped up 2-0 over the Ducks, then the Ducks came back and tied the series 2-2. Anaheim would then push ahead and take the series 3-2 in Game 5, but Nashville found the back-burners and won games six and seven. This time around, San Jose jumped forward 2-0 in the series, with Nashville then tying it 2-2 in the next two games. While it’s a little opposite of the first series, it has reverted back to Nashville being on the elimination block. But the home crowd has the magic and, as James Neal mentioned:

“We weren’t ready to go. But we’ll be ready on Monday.” – James Neal

First Period:

So the first period wouldn’t exactly start out in Nashville’s favor, with Chris Tierney notching two goals at 9:55 and 11:51. However, things would finally begin to click for the Predators at 15:27 when Roman found a hole through the crowded net-front to put the Predators on the board.

Interestingly enough, Roman Josi (who tallied 14 goals in the regular season) had 38 shots on goal before finally notching one, the most by an NHL player this postseason. Hey, one was bound to go in eventually, right?

Second Period:

Nashville would come out swinging in the second period, notching 14 shots on goal, ten more than San Jose. Out of the fourteen, one would sneak past Martin Jones; a beautiful backhander from Ryan Johansen, his fourth of the postseason. Ryan Ellis would pick up the assist on Johansen’s goal.

Third Period:

Miikka Salomaki would be flagged for hi-sticking Martin Jones, which would result in a Sharks PP goal from Logan Couture at 10:04. With half a period to go, Nashville was one goal down from being eliminated in front of the home crowd. But alas, the butterfly of the playoffs emerged at 12:44 to tie the game 3-3; Colin Wilson’s fifth goal of the postseason.

Seriously though, where does this kid hide during the regular season? Where ever it is, there’s not denying that while he may be quiet in the regular season, Colin Wilson is a beast in the post season. Someone who has been rather quiet in the postseason, though? Filip Forsberg.

Bonus Hockey:

Overtime. Nashville’s best friend in this series. After three overtime periods in Game 4, Predators fans were prepared to spend another night/morning at the Bridgestone Arena… as long as the outcome was the same as Game 4. Well, the boys in gold had other ideas; ideas to finish the game in one overtime instead of three. Viktor Arvidsson, a young Swede with the heart of lion, would be the one to save Nashville from elimination.

With a beautiful backhand shot, Arvidsson not only notched the game-winner, but his first career playoff goal.

Arvidsson, who has been beaten & kicked down throughout the playoffs (and in the regular season), somehow has always come out with heart & fire. To say he deserved this goal is truly an understatement.

History to Be Made:

The Predators are in business of making franchise history during these playoffs and they aren’t ready to stop. Thursday’s game will be Nashville’s second Game 7 in playoff history with the first being previously against the Ducks in the first round. This will also be the first time Nashville has advanced beyond Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs. More history to make? Nashville has never won a playoff game in San Jose. But, as I have said in the past, there’s a first for everything. Why not this year?

Also, it is amazing to see the support the Predators are receiving throughout the city and the state. Businesses and fellow professional teams alike are standing with the Predators, cheering them onward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

So rest up and come ready to rock, Preds fans. This is history in the making for the Nashville Predators franchise. Similar to Game 7 against the Ducks, the Predators will be holding a viewing party on the plaza at Bridgestone Arena at 7PM. It’ll move inside to the Lexus Lounge if the nasty weather persists.