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Preds '08-09 Roster Shaping Up

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
With the Shea Weber signing, the Preds have now locked up all of their top targets from this year’s pending free agent class. J.P Dumont, David Legwand, and Jordin Tootoo each were signed during the season, Martin Erat was inked in early May, and now Dan Ellis, Ryan Suter, and Shea Weber have all been signed within the last week.

2007-08 Predators players under contract for next season
Jason Arnott
Radek Bonk
J.P. Dumont
Martin Erat
Vernon Fiddler
David Legwand
Scott Nichol
Jed Ortmeyer
Alexander Radulov
Jerred Smithson
Jordin Tootoo

Greg de Vries
Dan Hamhuis
Ryan Suter
Shea Weber
Greg Zanon
Marek Zidlicky

Dan Ellis
Pekka Rinne

* Note: Steve Sullivan is under contract for '08-09 but was excluded since he did not play any games with in '07-08; Antti Pihlstrom is under contract but was excluded since he played in just one NHL game in '07-08
Those seven players were signed to deals worth a combined $107.5 million over the lifetime of their deals. That commitment speaks well of the team’s future, not to mention its present.

Those signings also ensure that the Predators will have their main core of stars returning for the 2008-09 season. It also allows David Poile and the hockey operations staff to concentrate on other upgrades once the free agency period opens on July 1, without having to worry about potential defections.

After all, the 17 returning skaters already locked up for next season accounted for 88.7% of the team’s goals last season, which is quite significant from a team which ranked 12th in the league with 2.77 goals per game during the ’07-08 campaign. And a huge change from last season when three of the team's top nine scorers  -- including leading scorer Paul Kariya -- were not retained due to the unsettled ownership situation and a fourth in Steve Sullivan missed the entire season recovering from injury. That doesn't take into account trade deadline acquisition Peter Forsberg who also left via free agency.

The team still has some unsigned players from last year’s squad, the most notable are defensemen Kevin Klein and Ville Koistinen, both of whom are restricted free agents to who the Preds will extend qualifying offers. Up front the team has decisions to make on restricted free agents Brandon Bochenski and Rich Peverley, both of whom contributed during the playoffs this spring, and unrestricted free agents Jan Hlavac and Martin Gelinas. Or, of course, the team could go outside the organization either via trade or free agency.

With Colin Wilson expressing a desire to do everything in his power to make the NHL team out of training camp this season and a limited number of contracts available under the organization’s 50 contract limit as set in the NHL’s CBA, David Poile and staff still have some interesting questions to determine over the next few weeks.

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