As the 2015-16 NHL season officially came to a conclusion on Sunday night with the awarding of the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the offseason activities are now set to ramp up across the League.
Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile addressed a number of those topics on Monday morning at Bridgestone Arena as the club prepares for the NHL Draft, Development Camp, free agency and the rest of the summertime tasks that will eventually lead into training camp in September.
Perhaps most notably on Monday, Poile updated the status of a handful of current Preds and what the future holds, including goaltender Carter Hutton. Nashville inked goaltender Marek Mazanec to a one-year, two-way deal for the 2016-17 season prior to Poile’s address, leading to a potential change in Hutton’s status with the team. Poile says he continues to speak with Hutton’s agent, but the netminder may ultimately move in a different direction.
“I think Carter sees signing with the Predators as a little bit of a dead end to his career, meaning he thinks he’s played well enough, which I would agree… I think he feels that going to another team will give him a better opportunity to get more games and to probably extend his career,” Poile said. “So it’s not over yet, but I would say that’s probably the way Carter is leaning, and I have a tough time arguing against that. I think Carter has done a great job for us. He’s a good goaltender, real good person, brings good chemistry, all those things, but it is what it is.”
While Poile believes Hutton may be on his way out of Nashville, the GM doesn’t fret at the prospect of inserting a new backup for Pekka Rinne, with Mazanec and Juuse Saros serving as prime candidates.
“I’m glad we were able to sign [Mazanec] and we have Saros; we have two really good goaltenders and you’ve got to make a couple of changes with our roster,” Poile said. “I would like to make a couple changes with our roster, and this might be one of them… If this is the direction that we go, I’m very comfortable. We will be fine in that area.”
Poile spoke to ongoing contract negotiations with restricted free agents Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok, believing deals will eventually get done.
“We’ve had a couple of conversations with each of their agents, but as I always say, this is a process,” Poile said. “I don’t look for these to be getting done tomorrow, but we’re moving ahead.”
The Nashville general manager also reiterated his stance on forward Eric Nystrom, stating that he hopes to make a move with the winger sometime soon.
“I’m still attempting to trade Eric Nystrom,” Poile said. “We’re getting close to a deadline in that situation. A buyout is possible if I’m unable to make a trade, but we’re going to do something in that area.”
Poile says the Preds will begin to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents next week, as well as looking into speaking to unrestricted free agents during a conversation period prior to July 1 at 11 a.m. CT, when clubs can officially begin to sign free agents.