Who Will Stay and Who Will Go
While obviously the Predators have a huge RFA to resign in Shea Weber, there are also some other players that need to be given a new contract moving forward.
Joel Ward (UFA):
Joel ward had a mediocre regular season this year, he finished with 29 points in 80 games with 10 goals. Going into the playoffs he had a strong push but Pred fans were already looking at letting him go in the offseason to put the money somewhere else. Than the playoffs began and came the emergence of Ward. He ended the postseason with more than a point a game and in the Vancouver series showed that he could be counted on in the clutch. Now with the off season coming teams may be looking to offer him a hefty contract looking to secure him as a high end depth forward.
Prediction: While I would like to see him back in a Preds jersey, he is going to ask for too much and simply isn’t worth it. While he did a lot for the team in the playoffs, he just isn’t worth the big money that may be about to be thrown at him. If the Preds can sign him to the same deal at about $1.5 million for a year or two than keep him, anything more is a waste.
Steve Sullivan (UFA):
This was sort of a down year for Sullivan mostly due to injuries slowing him down. At the beginning of the year him and O’Reilly had great chemistry and were tearing it up, but when O’Reilly went down Sullivan wasn’t the same. He then went to miss some major time and missed over 30 games with two different injuries. While posting 22 points in 44 games isn’t bad; he is getting older and losing some speed.
Prediction: Sullivan will probably be resigned to a smaller contract, somewhere around $1 to $2 million probably on year to year bases to see how his body holds up. Anything more than $2 million isn’t worth it and will only hamper the team going forward.
Shane O’Brien (UFA):
O’Brien was brought in to the team from Vancouver to add grit and a physical edge to the defence core which is filled with more skilled players that tough ones. He did his job well this year and even cut down on his penalties which were one of the main problems in his past years.
Prediction: While he did his job well, his future with the organization will all depend on if Bouillon is healthy or not. If he isn’t than O’Brien will be brought back for probably around the same amount in a short term deal. If Bouillon is healthy than O’Brien will probably end up somewhere else next season as Blum seems to have secured a spot in the top 6 for next year.
Marcel Goc (UFA):
Goc was a player that Trotz liked to use in every situation. He could play top line minutes or play on the fourth line taking on teams top lines and shutting them down. He was our team’s jack of all trades and played well. In 51 games he posted 24 points with most of those coming while he played with Erat and SK.
Prediction: I liked Goc as a player but I can’t see him staying, with him being a UFA and having good depth at center if everyone is healthy I don’t believe the team will resign him, but I would be
pleasantly surprised if they did.
Nick Spaling (RFA):
While Spaling doesn’t put up amazing offensive numbers many Predator fans grew to love him as a player throughout the year. He is the kind of player that will throw himself in front of a shot and do everything possible just to get the puck out of the zone. This year he was finally rewarded by scoring his first NHL goal as he ended up with 8 goals and 6 assists.
Prediction: Spaling will get resigned and depending on the health of the teams centers may end up in the minors able to work on his offensive game that he showed glimpses of in the playoffs with Tootoo.
Matt Halischuck (RFA):
Halischuck is similar to Spaling, as he was used as a third or fourth liner this year putting up decent numbers during both the regular season and the playoffs. Putting up 12 points in 27 games showed he has some offensive skill that may translate into a second line player.
Prediction: He will also get resigned, probably to the same deal as what Spaling will get. Something with about two to three years and just under a million.
Cal O’Reilly (RFA):
After the injury to Lombardi Cal was thrust into top line center role playing with whatever player was producing at the time. He performed well posting 18 points in 38 games, but his season was cut short after he broke his leg.
Prediction: I’m unsure about Cal, I like him as a player and believe he has great vision on the ice and is a good two way center. He would be a great second line center on most teams but the Predators have enough of those. It will come down to either him or Goc, but because he is a RFA I believe he will stay.
Sergei Kostitsyn (RFA):
SK is probably the Predators second biggest player to sign this offseason. He tied for the team lead in points and lead the team in goals this year. He seemed to play well uner Trotz and with the major spotlight on him. The only part of the year that hurt Sergei in his contract talks is that he virtually disappeared during the playoffs, so we will have to see what kind of contract Poile rewards him with.
Prediction: I say Poile gives him a two year deal worth about $1.5 to $2 million, as to see if SK is the real deal or just a flash in the pan. If he is the real deal and can produce more offense than Polie can pay him than.
Shea Weber (RFA):
This is the big one, ever since the start of the season all i have heard is that every team wants to put in an offer sheet on Weber. Well why wouldn’t they, he had 16 goals and 48 points on an offensively challenged team that couldn’t score, and is seen as arguably the best defence man in the game right now and even got nominated for the Norris trophy.
Prediction: Weber will remain a Predator, and will be one for a long time. He has stated publicly to the press that he will stay and a deal will get done and the Predators have stated they have the budget to sign him. Poile will probably sign him to a 5 or 6 year deal averaging about $6.5 to $7 million a year.
Greg Duley (@G_Duley)