CHICAGO -- Consider Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz a fan of the moves the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks pulled off last summer.
While keeping their "core group" of young stars intact, the Blackhawks added a handful of quality veterans through free agency and trade -- almost all on one-year contracts -- and Trotz said the difference is noticeable in how the new-look Hawks play.
His team will get an up-close look at Chicago on Monday night when the Preds face off against the Hawks at the United Center.
"I love the changes they made," Trotz said after Nashville's Monday morning skate. "I love the character they brought in. They brought in some grit and fire in some of their role players. I think they filled-in very nicely. Two teams in the summer filled-in the best in terms of free agency and that (was) the Blackhawks and (San Jose Sharks). Those two teams fit a lot of the right pieces."
One of those pieces Chicago added is 38-year old top-six forward Andrew Brunette, who played for Trotz both in the minors and for one season in Nashville (1998-99). Trotz was asked about Brunette on Monday and had glowing remarks.
"One of my all-time favorite guys," he said. "As he says, he's the best guy that can't skate in the League. For a guy who 'couldn’t skate' in the National Hockey League, he's had a (long) career and he's fantastic in the room. He's a rink rat, even as he's getting into his late 30s. He loves the game. He will be a good coach someday, guaranteed. He's just too passionate about the game."