Preds have an interesting start to Free Agency

After an eventful first weekend to the Free Agency period, many Nashville Predators fans are left scratching their heads and with many mixed emotions.

Early last week the Predators announced they would not be re-signing veteran winger Steve Sullivan to a new contract.  Only three days later, the Preds dropped another surprise when they announced they were going to buy out long time Predator J.P. Dumont.  But, due to nagging injury problems for both players, the move was a necessary one.  Dumont and Sullivan were both very loved and respected members of the Nashville community and are going to be greatly missed by the fans here.

When you couple these surprise departures with the allegations that arose last week of improperly submitted offer sheets to RFA’s, the future of the Preds has many fans worried.  Involved in this snag are RFA’s Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk, Nick Spaling, and Cal O’Reilly.  Also involved are AHLers Linus Klasen who will be headed to Europe next season, Andreas Thuresson, and Chris Mueller.  Thuresson was traded on Saturday to the New York Rangers in exchange for AHLer Brodie Dupont.  For more on the RFA snag, read this story posted by Section303.

As July 1st rolled around, Predators fans wondered what was going to happen next to an already in question team.  It didn’t take long for the first domino in the Predators Free Agency pool to fall.  Center Marcel Goc left Nashville and signed a 3 year $5.19 million deal with the Florida Panthers.  Goc missed a portion of the season due to several shoulder injuries, but will be sorely missed at the center spot.  Not long after this news, Sullivan announced via Twitter that he was now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sullivan signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.

That same afternoon, winger Joel Ward, who had really made a name for himself during this years playoffs notching 13 points in 12 games, inked a deal with the Washington Capitals for four-years worth $12 million.  Also departing from the Predators was depth goalie Mark Dekanich.  Dex as he is better known as, signed a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets after posting an AHL best .931 save percentage.  Dekanich will be battling with Steve Mason for the starting job in Columbus.

On Sunday, the Predators front office decided to drop another bomb on its fans.  They announced that they had traded center Matthew Lombardi and defenseman Cody Franson to the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for defenseman Brett Lebda and minor leaguer Robert Slaney.  Lombardi only skated in two games for the Predators last season after suffering a season ending concussion, making it the third of his career.  Losing Franson means losing experience on the blue line, but more importantly losing a very good power play specialist.  It remains to see how this trade will work out for the Preds due to the fact that Slaney has never seen any NHL ice time, and Lebda who is a third line d-man at best.

Later Sunday afternoon, Nashville announced it had signed forward and goal scorer Niclas Bergfors to a one-year contract worth $575,000.  It appears as though the Predators are beginning to add some scoring in the event that the RFA hearing set for July 8th does not go Nashville’s way.

After a quiet 4th of July, the Predators announced Tuesday afternoon that they had signed two forwards in Zach Stortini from the Edmonton Oilers, and free agent Kyle Wilson.  Stortini spent most of last season in the AHL after spending 2007-2010 with the Oilers.  This is most likely a depth move by the Preds, and will see Stortini end up in Milwaukee unless, once again, the Preds are bitten by the RFA snag.  Wilson however, is the most likely of the two to see NHL ice time this coming season.  After bouncing from the Wild to the Capitals, he finally landed with the Blue Jackets where he notched 11 points in just 32 games.

While Nashville has started shoring up its depth, fans are still waiting for the announcement that team captain Shea Weber has signed his new deal.  Along with this, fans are waiting for GM David Poile to announce a big offensive signing due to all of the salary dumping and space clearing he has been doing so far.  Until that announcement is made, many fans are anxiously shifting in their seats wondering what’s next for their beloved Preds.

Tyler Davis
NHLHS Nashville Predators Correspondent
Twitter: @Trebek14