A general manager's work is never quite done.
With the 2017 NHL Draft in the rearview mirror, and just days after being named the 2017 NHL General Manager of the Year, Predators GM David Poile will be working the phones on Sunday, leading straight into the commencement of the July 1 free-agency signing period, looking to see what may be available to his team this offseason.
Poile addressed that, as well as the potential for a trade as he and his staff will continue to explore their options this summer after losing forward James Neal to Vegas in the Expansion Draft.
Whether or not something transpires remains to be seen, but Poile certainly did his due diligence in Chicago.
"I think I touched base with just about everybody in two and a half days I've been here," Poile said. "There [may be framework] to generate some form of a trade, and we're only a few days away now from free agency and that's another avenue that we're going to look at. I think our team is still pretty good. We're down a man losing James Neal at the Expansion Draft, and if we can get a top-six forward, that would probably be my first choice."
Poile is open to make a move, whether that be via trade or free agency, but one thing he won't be sacrificing in order to acquire more offense is a member of his top-four defensive core, namely P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.
"We've traded enough defensemen in my recent history," Poile said. "I think everybody would be pretty much on the same page that our defense drives our team and our core is as good as any in the League. We will not be touching our defense in the near future here."
The window for Poile and his staff to begin speaking to unrestricted free agents opens Sunday, and he expects to touch base with "five or six" agents of potential UFAs to gauge what the market might bring when it opens next weekend.
"I clearly think this year as we've built up our franchise and the success we had off the ice and the visual experience everybody had that saw our games and what Nashville is like, it probably does make Nashville a very attractive team to come to," Poile said. "I'll let you know soon if that's the case."
Two players Poile does not expect to return to the roster are forwards Vernon Fiddler and P.A. Parenteau who are unrestricted free agents. Poile confirmed talks with unrestricted free agent Harry Zolnierczyk on the potential of a new deal, but there is no agreement yet.
Video: Poile recaps Draft, talks free agency and Fisher
When it comes to replacing the goal scoring brought to the lineup by Neal, Poile may also look from within his own organization when training camp arrives.
"At the end of the day, we might be replacing James Neal with Kevin Fiala or Pontus Aberg or somebody that gets moved up the depth chart," Poile said. "There's lots of different ways to do it, and again, you explore all these situations. but I think with the depth that we had last year, right now we probably have 13 or 14 forwards on our team that I think have a really good chance to make our squad. I'm not desperate to say we've got to go out to do something specific, but I want to weigh all the different possibilities."
Poile and the Preds are also searching for a replacement behind the bench after former Assistant Coach Phil Housley departed to take the head coaching job in Buffalo, and that process is already underway.
"I've talked to [Head Coach] Peter Laviolette and we have a list of a few people that we'd like to talk to," Poile said. "While [Laviolette] was [in Chicago], he talked to three different candidates. When we go back to Nashville, we have our Development Camp this week, we're going to sit down and see if there's any more people we'd like to interview and then maybe make a decision from there."
Poile said he expects to speak to Captain Mike Fisher next week to get his thoughts on potentially returning for an 18th NHL season. Fisher said at the conclusion of the season he would take time this summer to think about his future.
Nashville's GM also expects to have an update on the condition of Ellis next week after the defenseman was injured during the Stanley Cup Final.