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Offseason Recap: Preds Make Trades, Signings, Selections During Summer

Rinne's Retirement, Notable Trades, Signings Highlight Offseason for GM Poile, Predators

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Those in the front office of an NHL franchise do anything but take the offseason off.

A Predators roster that found its way into the playoffs for the seventh-consecutive season, but didn't ultimately deliver the desired results, saw a number of changes take shape in Nashville as Preds General Manager David Poile and his staff retooled for the 2021-22 campaign.  

Trades, signings and the like have dominated the headlines over the past few months, and what Poile has billed as a "competitive rebuild" is about to take shape. Predators Rookie Camp begins this week, and veterans report for main Training Camp the week after with a full, 82-game season ahead.

If you're a hockey fan, summer is over, which is undoubtedly a welcome realization. So, before the Preds are back for good, enjoy this look back at the offseason happenings in Smashville.

June 14: Pekka Rinne Wins 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy

Following what turned out to be his 13th and final full NHL season, Rinne was awarded one of the League's top honors.

The legendary goaltender earned the NHL's 2021 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, an honor presented annually to "the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community."

"What an unbelievable honor," Rinne said from his Nashville home. "It's a very humbling feeling. It's an honor to work with different charities and be involved in my community, and I've been fortunate to stay in the same city for such a long time. I feel like the team and the Preds Foundation have given me so many opportunities to get involved, so I really appreciate this."

Video: Pekka meets with the media following Clancy Award

By winning, the NHL made a $25,000 donation on Rinne's behalf to benefit the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Twice Daily - which works with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. The Nashville Predators Foundation empowered by SmileDirectClub also matched this donation.

June 29: NHL Announces Preds to Host 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series™

The first outdoor NHL game in Nashville's history is coming this February.

The Predators will host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26, 2022 at the home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans as the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series comes to the Music City.

The 2022 NHL Stadium Series™ will mark Nashville's second appearance in a regular-season outdoor game, with the first being the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, which became the second-highest attended game in League history and saw more than 20,000 Nashville Predators fans travel to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

July 1: Preds Acquire 2021, 2022 NHL Draft Picks from Los Angeles for Viktor Arvidsson

Forward Viktor Arvidsson was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the first major change of the Predators offseason. 

"We want to thank Viktor for all he did to propel our organization forward during his time with the Predators," Poile said. "His work ethic, tenacity and goal-scoring ability - as shown by his franchise single-season record of 34 goals during the 2018-19 season - made him a key part of our teams that reached the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, won the 2018 Presidents' Trophy and earned back-to-back Central Division titles. We wish him and his family all the best moving forward in Los Angeles."

Video: Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne announces retirement.

July 13: Goaltender Pekka Rinne Announces Retirement From NHL

Midway through the summer, perhaps the most bittersweet day in Predators franchise history arrived.

Preds goaltender and franchise icon Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from the NHL following a decorated 15-year career with his entire 683-game NHL career with the Predators.

He is etched in Nashville's record books as the franchise leader in nearly every goaltending category, including games played, wins (369), goals-against average (2.43), total time on ice (39,413:29), shutouts (60) and saves (17,627), and in NHL history, he sits 19th in shutouts and tied for 19th in victories. He finished his career with a record of 369-213-75.

Video: Rinne holds press conference to announce retirement

"For more than 15 years, I've been on an incredible, life-changing journey with the Nashville Predators that has taken me to more places than I could have ever imagined and given me more than I could ever hope to give back," Rinne said. "This decision wasn't easy, but I know this is the right one at the right time. As I announce my retirement, I'm thankful for my parents, sisters, fiancée Erika, everyone in the Predators organization - management, coaches and trainers - my teammates and my youth coaches back in Finland. Last but not least, I'm thankful for the people of Nashville. Each of you helped me grow into the man, father and person I am today."

July 17: Predators Acquire Cody Glass, Philippe Myers in Three-Team Trade as Nashville Deals Ryan Ellis to Philadelphia

A trade that sent shockwaves around the League just before the Expansion Draft roster freeze in mid-July saw another familiar face depart for a pair of players who could play important roles in Nashville's future.

The Preds acquired defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Ryan Ellis before acquiring forward Cody Glass from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Patrick.

Video: Forward Cody Glass talks being traded to the Preds

"We felt it was time for a change to our core this offseason, and we are really excited to add an influx of youth, size and skill into the lineup with these additions," Poile said following the deals. "Cody Glass is a former sixth overall pick that we think has a high ceiling as a center prospect, and Philippe Myers is a 6-foot-5 defenseman that adds an element that we do not currently have on our back end.

"At the same time, we will miss Ryan Ellis' leadership, dedication and work ethic in our locker room. We drafted Ryan in 2009, and over the last decade-plus he helped lead our franchise through its most competitive era, spending the last four seasons as Associate Captain. We wish Ryan and his family all the best in Philadelphia and thank him for all he did during his time with the Predators."

Video: Welcome to Smashville, Philippe Myers

The Predators are high on the potential of both Glass and Myers, and both players will be given plenty of opportunities over the next month to find their respective spots in the Nashville lineup come Opening Night.

July 19: Preds Prospect Luke Prokop Becomes First Active Player Signed by an NHL Club to Announce He's Gay

A 2020 third-round draft pick and signee of the Predators, Luke Prokop made history over the summer.

With a simple announcement that he's gay, Prokop did something the hockey world rarely sees, especially in the professional ranks. The declaration was met with broad support from not only the Predators and the hockey community, but throughout professional sports and beyond.

"It's been really cool," Prokop said later in August as he attended Predators Development Camp. "I've gotten a lot of messages and support from players around the NHL, and also my league in the WHL. The guys here have been fantastic. I've had a few guys come up to me and just talk about it and say they're really proud of me. I can just go on the ice now and just focus on being a hockey player and trying to make the Nashville Predators organization.

Video: Luke Prokop talks Predators Development Camp

"After I had my phone call with the [Predators] management staff, they kind of wanted me to get in touch with some of the [NHL] players in the [Nashville] leadership group. For them to reach out and just have their words of encouragement was something I won't forget. I'll always remember that, and again, I've felt that my first few days here, the guys have been really receptive and really good about it. I couldn't be happier."

July 21: Seattle Kraken Select Calle Jarnkrok from Predators in Expansion Draft

When the Kraken made their selection from Nashville through the Expansion Draft, Calle Jarnkrok's name was called by the NHL's newest club as they built their roster by picking a total of 30 individuals during the process.

Jarnkrok, a versatile forward who had played each one of his 508 NHL games with the Preds, now heads to the Pacific Northwest - another constant in the Nashville lineup in recent years who will skate for a different club this season.

"I would be remiss if we didn't start this by thanking Calle Jarnkrok, for everything he did for the Predators organization," Poile said following the Expansion Draft. "Calle was a real good acquisition from Detroit several years ago, played a lot of different roles for us, a very versatile player, played in all different areas of the game and he clearly will be missed by the Predators. We wish him and his family all the best in Seattle."

Poile and the Predators submitted their protection list ahead of the Expansion Draft, electing to go with the eight skaters and one goaltender option. Five of those skaters - Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro, Philippe Myers and Alexandre Carrier - were defensemen, while Filip Forsberg, Luke Kunin and Tanner Jeannot were the forwards chosen. Goaltender Juuse Saros was also protected.

July 22: Preds Announce Schedule for 2021-22 NHL Season, Begin Oct. 14 vs. Seattle

The Predators won't have to wait long to see Jarnkrok and the Kraken as they begin their 24th NHL season with a four-game homestand starting Oct. 14 against Seattle. 

Following a shortened 56-game regular season in 2020-21, in which Nashville only played teams from a realigned Central Division, the 2021-22 campaign will see the Predators return to an 82-game schedule, headlined by 40 contests at Bridgestone Arena and a 2022 NHL Stadium Series™ tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nissan Stadium on Feb. 26.

July 23-24: Predators Select Six Players in 2021 NHL Draft, Including Two in First Round

The Preds made six selections in the 2021 NHL Draft as they took three forwards and three defensemen over the two-day event.

With the 19th overall pick, the Predators selected forward Fedor Svechkov from Lada Togliatti of the Russian second league, and later in the first round, Nashville acquired the 27th overall pick from the Carolina Hurricanes for the 40th and 51st overall picks in the 2021 NHL Draft and selected forward Zachary L'Heureux.

Video: Go behind the scenes with the Preds at the NHL Draft

"We're extremely high on both [players]," Preds Assistant General Manager Jeff Kealty said. "They're both guys that we talked about at our first pick at 19, and they're both guys that we had discussed and would have been comfortable with [picking in that spot]. So, to get two guys that were there and that highly rated for us was great. Svechkov is a terrific, two-way centerman, he plays a 200-foot game, he can produce offense, he can play with top players and is counted on in all situations. Then, L'Heureux, it's been kind of well talked about already as to just the unique package that he has in terms of the combination of skill and grit and nastiness and the win-at-all-costs mentality. We really feel that these are our two players that are going to be a big part of our future."

The Predators also selected defensemen Anton Olsson, Ryan Ufko and Jack Matier, as well as forward Simon Knak, on Day Two of the Draft.

July 28: Predators Sign Granlund, Rittich, Others as Free Agency Opens

The Preds were busy as the free agency signing period began, and they started by keeping one of their own.

Nashville signed forward Mikael Granlund to a four-year, $20 million contract after a 2020-21 campaign that saw him tie for the Predators lead in goals with 13 and slot fourth in points with 27 during his third season with the team.

"Signing Mikael to a contract that will keep him here in Nashville was a priority for us as we entered the free agency period," Poile said. "He has been one of our most consistent players since he joined the Predators, played a crucial role in helping turn our team around last season and fits in extremely well with our team chemistry and the identity we are trying to build. We're excited to see his continued impact in all three zones of the ice for the next several years and know he and his leadership will be instrumental in helping with the growth of the young group of forwards we've assembled."

The Predators also added goaltender David Rittich to a one-year, $1.25 million contract to serve as a backup to Juuse Saros in net, while forward Matt Luff (one year) and defenseman Matt Tennyson (two years) joined the club on two-way contracts.

Nashville also inked forwards Anthony Richard and Michael McCarron to new deals and signed 2021 draftee Zachary L'Heureux to his entry-level contract.

July 29-30: Restricted Free Agents Sign

After signing restricted free agent defensemen Ben Harpur and Jeremy Davies to new deals earlier in the summer, forward Mathieu Olivier agreed to a two-year, $1.5 million contract on July 29. One day later, forward Tanner Jeannot signed a two-year, $1.6 million contract. The deal will see Jeannot earn $750,000 in 2021-22 and $850,000 in 2022-23.

August 5: Predators Sign Dante Fabbro to Two-Year, $4.8 Million Contract

The Preds came to another agreement with an RFA as Dante Fabbro signed a two-year, $4.8 million contract that will see him earn $2.4 million in both 2021-22 and 2022-23.

The 23-year-old Fabbro established career highs in points (12), assists (11) and average time on ice (19:19) during his second full NHL season in 2020-21, despite appearing in just 40 games. Since making his NHL debut on March 30, 2019, following a three-season career at Boston University, Fabbro has appeared in 108 contests for Nashville, recording 24 points (8g-16a).

August 16: Predators Sign Juuse Saros to Four-Year, $20 Million Contract

Arguably the most important contract signed this offseason, the Predators locked up goaltender Juuse Saros with a four-year, $20 million contract.

"Juuse has proven himself as one of the best young goaltenders in the NHL, and we are very pleased to have him remain our No. 1 goaltender for years to come," Poile said. "While being mentored by Pekka Rinne, he has spent the last several seasons growing and taking steps physically and mentally to become a top goalie in this League, as evident by his spot on the NHL's All-Rookie Team in 2017-18 to finishing near the top of Vezina Trophy voting this past season. Juuse gives our team a chance to win in every game he plays, and we feel confident that with him leading the tandem we've established with David Rittich, our goaltenders will be a large part of our success in 2021-22."

Video: Preds goaltender Juuse Saros talks new contract

Saros, 26, posted the best statistical season of his five-year NHL career in 2020-21, going 21-11-1 in 36 games. Saros established career highs in several categories, including wins (21), starts (35), goals-against average (2.28) and save percentage (.927), totals that helped him finish sixth in Vezina Trophy voting and 11th in Hart Trophy voting.

August 30: Predators Sign Eeli Tolvanen to Three-Year, $4.35 Million Contract

The final restricted free agent on Nashville's list signed as August came to a close when Eeli Tolvanen agreed to a three-year, $4.35 million contract.

The 22-year-old Tolvanen posted 22 points (11g-11a) in 40 games for the Predators in 2020-21, his first full NHL season. His 11 goals were the fourth-most on the Predators and the most scored by a Predators rookie since Filip Forsberg netted 26 in 2014-15. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound forward also challenged two rookie franchise records: His six power-play goals (which led the Predators) were tied for the second-most and his six-game point streak (3g-6a) from March 21-30 was tied for the second-longest.

September 3: Preds Head Coach John Hynes Named Assistant Coach for Team USA Olympic Squad

The first of sure-to-be many Predators representatives at the 2022 Winter Olympics was named just prior to Labor Day as the offseason unofficially came to a close.

Nashville Head Coach John Hynes will serve as an assistant coach for Team USA at the Games, which are set to take place in Beijing, China, this coming February. He'll do so alongside Team USA Head Coach - and Penguins Head Coach - Mike Sullivan, as well as with fellow assistants Todd Reirden of the Penguins, former Rangers Head Coach David Quinn and all-time winningest American goaltender Ryan Miller.

"To have the opportunity to represent your country is always special, and it's truly the best-on-best tournament," Hynes said. "The Olympic Games, to be part of it as an athlete or coach or trainer in any way is a special opportunity. I'm just tremendously excited and grateful for the opportunity and really excited to work with the staff and the management, but also the opportunity to work with all the top players in the United States. They're not only excellent players, they're highly motivated people, and trying to compete for a gold medal at the highest level is invigorating."

Video: Coach Hynes talks joining Team USA for 2022 Olympics

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