It was a busy Saturday inside a certain office at Bridgestone Arena, and Predators General Manager David Poile is pleased with his work.
When Poile addressed the media at 4 p.m. CT on the opening day of free agency, Nashville had made a trade and added five new players to their roster, including forwards Nick Bonino and Scott Hartnell.
Looking for veteran presence in the lineup, both Bonino and Hartnell provide exactly that. Bonino is now the only player on the Preds roster who has won the Stanley Cup and Hartnell has been to a Cup Final in 2010 with the Flyers and Peter Laviolette. That experience can prove to be invaluable when the time comes, and Poile hopes he'll get just that from the pair.
With the addition of Bonino, Poile believes Nashville's ability up the middle is as strong as it's ever been, something he was happy to address.
"I really think with our center position, we've really strengthened an area that a little less than two years ago was, in my mind, a little bit of a weakness," Poile said. "Now with Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino, [Colton] Sissons, [Calle] Jarnkrok and still Mike Fisher, who is undecided [on his future], I think we really are strong down the middle for the first time in a long time. This might be as good of a center ice as we've ever had… It gives us a lot of flexibility with our lineup. Jarnkrok can move over the wing, Sissons can move over to the wing - it sets us up really well."
Bringing Hartnell back to Nashville has Poile just as excited as the Bonino deal, a chance for Hartnell to bounce back after a down year in Columbus that led the Blue Jackets to buying him out last week. Poile sees Hartnell as a player who can fill a multitude of roles for the Preds depending on the situation on any given night.
"The best way to say it is Hartsy might be the utility type of guy," Poile said. "I certainly see him being used on the power play and a net-front presence that could be a big difference for us with the guys we have on the point. Whatever amount of ice time that he got in Columbus last year, I think there will be a good chance there will be more ice time with us."
Poile also wants players who want to play in Nashville, and there wasn't anyone on the market who fit that description better than Hartnell.
"We, and he, are both thrilled for him coming back here," Poile said of Hartnell. "I think he really missed Nashville. He loved living here, he loved playing here, I think he was a fan favorite, and I think it's going to be a seamless fit back in our organization… He's going to bring a veteran presence, leadership in the room, and we all know Hartsy is a crash-and-bang type of guy and he will find his way to get some goals."
The Predators also saw the departure of a winger on Saturday when they traded Colin Wilson to Colorado in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2019 Draft. Wilson, who had been with the Predators almost a decade, simply wasn't able to find consistent production year after year, which ultimately led to the deal.
"I don't think there's any way of getting around it, Colin's time here was a lot of ups and downs," Poile said. "We had some meetings at the end of the year and I think both sides agreed if the opportunity presented itself and we could move him to another team that we would both be better off. I had a really good conversation with Colin today. I think he's very happy that we moved him. We thank him for what he did for the Predators and we wish him all the best in Colorado."