In a matter of hours on Saturday the Preds reshaped their roster and locker room dynamic with a pair of trades, adding Matt Halischuk
and Ryan Parent in separate deals involving Jason Arnott and Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis was the team’s longest tenured defenseman; Arnott was the team’s captain.
This opens the door for some of the team’s emerging young stars to step more into the limelight, specifically Ryan Suter
and Shea Weber
. Both Suter and Weber became more involved with team leadership as the season progressed, especially post-Olympic Break, but perhaps were hesitent to take further strides out of deference to Arnott.
The moves also mean the Preds roster is pretty well set for next season. Parent, along with Friday’s signing of Francis Bouillon
, gives Nashville seven legitimate NHL defensemen (Bouillon, Parent, Cody Franson, Kevin Klein
, Alexander Sulzer, Ryan Suter
, Shea Weber
), while up front the team has 13 forwards returning from their playoff roster (Wade Belak, JP Dumont, Martin Erat
, Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist
, David Legwand
, Cal O’Reilly, Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling
, Steve Sullivan, Jordin Tootoo
, Joel Ward, Colin Wilson
). Franson, Hornqvist, Parent, and Spaling are all restricted free agents. Plus the Preds also hold options to qualify pending restricted free agents Denis Grebeshkov and Dustin Boyd; adding both would give Nashville 21 skaters.
And that would not include forwards Matt Halischuk
(20 games with the Devils last season), Mike Santorelli (25 games with the Preds last season), Andreas Thuresson (22 games), or Linus Klasen
(51 points in 51 games in the Swedish Elite League). Nor would it include any of the team’s elite young defensemen prospects like Jonathon Blum
, Ryan Ellis
, Roman Josi
, or Teemu Laakso
(opened the ’09-10 season with the Predators).
However, in his interview with Tom Callahan on Saturday afternoon, Preds GM David Poile indicated that the Arnott trade may give the Preds the flexibility to look at adding an established forward later in the summer. Clearly, the Preds now enter the heart of the off-season in a position of strength; the roster is already in good shape so Nashville doesn't need to "reach" or "overpay" for anyone, but at the same time Poile has some salary flexibility to make a move should the right player come available.--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
A Look Inside the Arnott Trade…
|A Look Inside the Hamhuis Trade… |
Clearly the Preds first choice would have been to re-sign Dan Hamhuis. Proposals were made during the season and conversations continued after the season wrapped up. With July 1 approaching, the Predators reached the conclusion that Hamhuis was likely to test the free agent waters. By trading Hamhuis, Nashville accomplished a couple of key goals, notably the team was able to bring back a young defenseman in Ryan Parent with NHL experience who is capable of sliding into the lineup from Game 1 next season. Second, the trade likely means Hamhuis will be out of the Conference; in what’s shaping up as a relatively thin free agent class for defensemen, media reports were indicating that several Western Conference playoff teams were readying big offers for Hamhuis. In one move the Preds may have both filled a necessary spot in their defensive corps and kept Hamhuis away from potential playoff rivals.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
Jason Arnott did a lot for the Preds organization in his four seasons in Nashville – the 107 goals and 229 points speak for themselves – but at 35 years old (he’ll turn 36 right around Opening Night) it’s tough to judge just how many more top end seasons he has remaining. Since posting 72 points in ’07-08, Arnott has seen his point totals dip each of the last two seasons. Last year he failed to reach 50 points for the first time since ’02-03 and missed the 20-goal plateau for the first time since ’97-98. Arnott missed 19 games due to injury last season and 17 the season before; many of those 36 games lost were due to concussion-like symptoms. The injury history, production last season, age, made for a tough decision for the Preds heading in to ’10-11. Poile indicated that during his end of season exit meeting with Arnott it appeared the team and player were not on the same page … a big problem for a team built around unity.
Many people wonder how the Preds will survive without Arnott, but last season the team managed just fine, going 13-5-1 (.711 points percentage) in four stints without Arnott in the line up – which was actually better than the .579 mark the team posted with Arnott (34-24-5). Nashville started two key season-changing swings with Arnott on the sidelines, a 4-2-0 stretch in late October to end the team’s early season five game winless streak and a 5-2-1 stretch late in the regular season to secure a playoff spot (including the playoff clinching win at Detroit on April 3).
Don’t forget about Matt Halischuk
in this trade. He’s only 22 years old and already has 21 games of NHL experience in an organization that – much like the Preds – likes to see its young players rise through the AHL ranks. In this year’s The Hockey News
Future’s Watch, Halischuk was ranked among the top-10 prospects in the Devils organization. He plays an all-out physical style that is likely to earn him high marks with Coach Trotz and staff (a Halischuk/Tootoo pairing, for example, would not be a fun combo for opponents next season).--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com