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Predators add Franson, Santorelli from Maple Leafs

NHL.com @NHL

The Nashville Predators have acquired defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2015 first-round pick, veteran forward Olli Jokinen and prospect Brendan Leipsic.

Nashville has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the past two seasons, but leads the Western Conference with 82 points in Peter Laviolette's first year as coach.

"In preparation for the 2015 playoff run, our goal was to add a veteran defenseman who could play in all situations and a proven forward who could move up and down lineup based on the situation," general manager David Poile said in a statement. "We were fortunate to do this in the same transaction with players who are in the prime of their careers more than two weeks before the [NHL] Trade Deadline in order to give them more time to contribute and jell with their teammates.

"Both Cody and Mike were drafted, developed and began their NHL careers here. They know our organization and still have former teammates and friends on the roster. We are fully confident that they will seamlessly fit into our team."

Franson has six goals and 32 points in 55 games this season, and is averaging more than 21 minutes per game of ice time. He joins an already deep and talented defense corps that includes Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones.

"It's very exciting," Franson said to the Predators' website. "Nashville is such a great city and it will be an unbelievable place to try and win a Cup. I can't tell you how excited I am to go back there and be a part of it. I'm going to try and do everything I can to help the team win."

Santorelli was one of the best offseason bargains when he signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs. He has 11 goals and 29 points in 57 games, and is a versatile player capable of playing in the middle or on the wing.

The Predators have Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher centering their top two lines, but Santorelli could fit next to Calle Jarnkrok either as the center or a wing on the third line.

"He has fantastic speed, is excellent in the face-off circle, and can play all three forward positions if called upon," Poile said of Santorelli. "He is an excellent complement to our existing group of forwards."

Franson and Santorelli are each set to become unrestricted free agents in July.

"Everyone wants playoff performers," Santorelli said Saturday. "So if I can get my game up to that level and be in that situation and do well, I think that's what every player would want to do."

Leipsic was a third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft (No. 89) by the Predators. He has seven goals and 35 points in 47 games for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.

He had a very productive junior career with the Portland WinterHawks of the Western Hockey League, with 88 goals and 211 points in 128 games in his final two seasons.

Jokinen signed a one-year contract with the Predators last summer and would also be a UFA in July. He has three goals and six points in 48 games in 2014-15.

"It's been a weird process and obviously going through all the trade deadline rumors it's tough to ignore," Franson said. "You try to prepare yourself for any possible situation. I've tried to do the same thing. I've been trying to continue to do what I've been doing in Toronto by working to help the team win. I love it here in Toronto, and that was my first focus, but at the same time being prepared for this call so I didn't get blindsided."

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