David Poile's 22nd year with the Nashville Predators is underway, and he's just as busy as ever.
The only general manager the Preds have ever known was high above the ice on Sunday afternoon at Ford Ice Center Antioch, evaluating 40 of his players during the team's annual Blue & Gold Scrimmage.
Along with the rest of his management team and coaches, Poile will have the arduous task of taking his roster down from the current 55 players to just 23 by the time the Oct. 1 deadline arrives prior to Opening Night. In that time, Poile will have plenty to think about.
For one, the GM believes the Predators have the most depth in the organization they've ever had, and that includes all positions at forward, defense and in net.
Poile knows the Preds will have some tough decisions to make in the weeks to come, but that's not a bad thing. Ultimately, Nashville will have an impressive group once the final roster is set - and thanks to the personnel throughout the lineup, Poile believes the club will have a better scoring balance across all four lines with offense continuing to be a focal point once more.
So, what will Dante Fabbro's role look like? Will Eeli Tolvanen make the team out of training camp? Where will Kyle Turris play in the lineup?
Poile addressed all that and more following the scrimmage. Here's the GM, in his own words.
On the current contract negotiations with Preds Captain Roman Josi, who is entering the final year of his current deal:
"They're ongoing conversations, regular conversations, and it's frustrating for me to say it to you, but there's not much more I can say. We're both continuing to talk and work towards a contract, and that's the only update I have there."
On where Kyle Turris, a natural center, could potentially play in the Nashville lineup:
"If [Matt] Duchene remains in the middle and [Ryan Johansen] and Duchene end up being our 1-2 centers, it's necessary for [Turris to play on the wing if he's] going to have an opportunity in the top two lines… I think [Head Coach Peter Laviolette] is going to try a lot of combinations there, and I'm sure you'll see Kyle back at center ice in preseason games also… In my most optimistic way, [I'm thinking] we could be dynamite with three lines with Kyle being one of the three centers. We haven't had three centers like that with the offensive capabilities. On the other hand, that's a very coveted spot to play on the left wing with [Johansen] and [Viktor Arvidsson] if Peter decides to play Filip [Forsberg] say with Duchene like he had in practice yesterday. I think it's a new thing, a new opportunity for Kyle, and I think this experimentation is just going to be part of training camp."
On if forward Eeli Tolvanen is ready to become a full-time NHLer:
"He's been [in North America] for one year. That's the problem, because he got so much hype from [his success] in the KHL year [as an 18-year-old], so much hype, and last year was not an easy year for him. It was an OK year, but he had to be one of the three or four youngest players in the [American Hockey] League, so this year he's already better. We see better conditioning, scoring more goals in the rookie tournament… A week from now, we'll have a much better read on whether he was able to play, have any success or what have you [in some preseason games]. His expectations are probably as high as anybody from what he's gone through with the success of the KHL level, and he got a lot of recognition that year, a lot of fanfare coming in. It takes time, but to me, we're way ahead of where we were last year."
On how he views Mikael Granlund's upcoming season, his first full campaign with the Preds:
"It never felt that way, that he ever really completely settled in [after we traded for him from Minnesota last season] … We had lengthy, end-of-the-year-meetings last year and talked about a lot of stuff, and his name got brought up a lot in a very positive way by multiple players as a guy that they really wanted back on our team. He's a guy that they felt was hard to play against, all those things. From the onset of training camp - I've seen him just a couple times - but it just seems like he feels like more of a Predator, and this is more of his team right now. He can be in a real good situation on a line with say, Duchene, if [coach Laviolette] keeps that together, so I'm as optimistic as I can be that we're going to see the Mikael Granlund that we traded for."
On how he expects Dante Fabbro's role to play out from the start of the season:
"We're going to give him as much as he can handle, but I think we've got other veterans that can move up and play left side or right side if we need to, and hopefully we have the right setup that allows him to be successful. Based on how I've seen him in the rookie camp for one game, how I see him today, he looks really good, and I think maybe we won't have enough for him to handle. I don't know, but again, we always are a little cautious with our younger players and [we want to] put them in that position to be successful in that type of situation… We're looking at lots of opportunities, so we've had different combinations, but Fabbro looks really good to us at the outset here."