Hal Gill’s two-year contract to return to the Preds provides a major piece to the framework of the team’s defensive corps for next season. With Gill back in the fold, the pairings for next season appear to have significantly more clarity. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter – GM David Poile has made it clear that while he anticipates a favorable decision from Suter, the Preds have other targets identified for top-pairing minutes if Suter exercises his option to play elsewhere – at the top of the depth chart. Roman Josi appears in line for second-pairing minutes, either matched with Kevin Klein or Gill; both combinations had significant success for key stretches last season and both combinations are likely to get looks over the course of the 2012-13 season. The other of Klein/Gill is likely to serve as a veteran mentor to one of Nashville’s young talented defensemen --- with Jon Blum, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm the three most likely candidates to win NHL spots out of camp, but don’t discount Finnish free agent signee Joonas Jarvinen, a more physical defensive presence.
But having Klein and Gill as a veteran presence for the second and third pairings – plus stability on the penalty kill and in late-game pressure situations – gives the Preds a calming influence heading into 2012-13.