O’Brien Heads to Colorado as the Exodus Continues, What/Who’s Next?

Another day, another Nashville Predator leaves the Music City for another organization.  Defenseman Shane O’Brien has bolted for Colorado, signing a one year, $1.1 million contract.

In the grand scheme of things, this decision isn’t exactly a significant one.  O’Brien is a 4th-to-7th defenseman in the NHL and those players are somewhat interchangeable, especially in an organization like Nashville that is so deep on the blueline.

However, how this becomes a factor is in the Predators’ organizational depth.  The vacated roster spots formerly occupied by players such as Ward, Franson, Sullivan,  Goc and O’Brien will have to be filled.  Some replacements like Niclas Bergfors and others have been added, but overall this seems like a perplexing trend for an organization that is coming off a breakout year.

I know better than to doubt Nashville G.M. David Poile and the Predators’ grand game plan, which likely has cornerstone defenseman Shea Weber under a long term contract as its centerpiece, but I think something needs to be said about what kind of AHL team the Nashville organization will be placing on the ice in Milwaukee next season.

So far Nashville is looking at a minimum of three-to-five bodies that it is going to need to replace on a permanent basis from within.  Again no surprise for the Predators.

However, does that mean that players like Blake Geoffrion, Chris Mueller, Teemu Laakso and Gabriel Bourque might not be back to Milwaukee by default?  Are these potential Admirals ready for the next stage of their careers?  Who steps into Milwaukee next year to fill their void?

Roundtable, what do you think about the current makeup of the Nashville organization as a whole?

10 thoughts on “O’Brien Heads to Colorado as the Exodus Continues, What/Who’s Next?”

  1. Nashville really isn’t doing a whole heck of a lot from the approach most teams take and that’s building on last years performance. So many players have left and now you stunt the growth of young players by moving them along too quickly. Is blake ready for full time nhl? Maybe but he’s gonna have to be! Blum? Gabe? No not really I thought they would be those “yo-yo” players that spend the season up and down between here and nashville. The preds seem to be rather frugal with their money not spending it on players as much as other teams. I’m a pretty big shea weber and pekka fan but not so much of nashville because of the things they do with their players. I can’t see this team competing for 4th in their division let alone a cup, and that maybe what shea is looking at right now in regards to his current contract situation and what pekka might be thinking about next year. Weber’s arbitration hearing is set for august 2nd I bet he gets charra like money and nashville keeps him for two year deal and trades him later or he looks at the organization and where its heading and leaves to try and win a cup. Milwaukee is going to need mvg to notch cincy-like numbers! Let’s go buffalo!!

  2. Reading a comment made by a poster about the Predators Skate of the Union, he had mentioned that Jeff Cogen is hinting at not having Milwaukee as their affiliate in the near future.

    Will someone please try to verify this?

  3. MADISON, Wis. – With two years of collegiate eligibility remaining for the Wisconsin Badgers, forward Craig Smith will become a professional hockey player. The Madison, Wis., native is a 2009 fourth-round pick (98th overall) of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.

    Looks like the ADS just added a forward to the mix this year.

  4. Brian — hadn’t heard anything like that, and if it had come up at the Skate of The Union, that would have been pretty big news. I would expect that we’d be reading a lot more about that, and there would be more questions asked about it. Do you remember which blog had that comment?

    I haven’t watched the whole video yet (predsontheglass.com has it in youtube clips). I did hear that when asked about the Admirals playing a game in Nashville, it was something he hadn’t thought about.

  5. Brian,

    That was not the case at all. The Predators are very happy with their relationship with Mikwaukee and aren’t looking to change that anytime soon.

    Cogen was asked late in the question and answer session about the possibility of bringing the Admirals to Nashville for a regular season game as they did during the lockout. Cogen responded that he had never thought of doing that and wasn’t aware of the game during the lockout, but that if there was interest from the fan base, then he’d definitely look into it. He then asked the crowd if there was support for such a game and got a very positive response.

    There was no mention of or reference to finding a new affiliate at all and, if anything, Cogen’s unfamiliarity with the game a few years back stems from the fact he was broought in at the start of last season.

  6. As for the original question in the blog, the way I see the organization shaking out there is plenty of depth in Milwaukee for next season.

    Forwards:
    Chris Mueller, Michael Latta, Joel Champagne, Gabriel Bourque, Brodie Dupont, Jani Lajunen, Jusso Puustinen, Taylor Beck, Ryan Thang, Kyle Wilson, Mark Van Guilder, Ryan Flynn, Ben Ryan, Robert Slaney, and even possibly Blake Geoffrion and now Craig Smith depending on how things shake out at training camp.

    On defense things are a little less clear to me, but off the top of my head…
    Victor Bartley, Teemu Laakso, Roman Josi, Jeff Foss, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, and Charles-Olivier Roussel could all see time in Milwaukee this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a couple of signings in Milwaukee or by the Preds later this summer to bring in a little more veteran presence. Personally, I think Laakso cracks the roster out of camp with Nashville this season.

    In goal:
    Jeremy Smith is the only lock and Chet Pickard and Atte Engren will be in the mix as backup.

    Overall, I don’t see anyone being rushed to Nashville right now nor will the Ads be poorly stocked this season either. Both teams will be young, but skilled and have a surprising amount of experience for such a young group.

  7. Ryan and Seth,

    The supposed remark came up after the Q and A was over and people were chatting with the panel. Obviously feeling giddy about the ex-Thrashers fan being there and the response that happened during the SOTU, Cogen supposedly remarked to one of the attendees later on that in the near future, he wants to have his affiliate ‘teams’ with in a 3 hour driving distance of Nashville to build the fan base in the region.

    The quote from the poster was as follows:

    “I was able to catch Jeff Cogen last night

    Can’t let the Pred out of the bag….but expect to see our farm teams within a 3 hour driving distance in the near future. He mentioned 2 cities on the radar with hockey ready arenas that they are going for to get a more regional fan base. Hint…..One metro area just lost their team……”

    Here is the link from On The Forecheck
    http://www.ontheforecheck.com/2011/7/14/2275251/nashville-predators-skate-of-the-union

  8. Wow…. I hadn’t seen that. Thanks for sharing that Brian.

    That certainly would be news. I’ll see if I can make some calls.

  9. Birmingham, Louisville, Chattanooga and Knoxville are within a 3 hour drive of Nashville. Atlanta is over 4 hours away from Nashville at 250 miles.

  10. Thanks. Don’t know if it’s just smoke or not, but I’ve made an inquiry with the Preds, and I have yet to hear a yea or nay from them. I don’t have press credentials though, so maybe someone here can get a little light shed on this. I’ve had other feelers out on this and nobody has found anything out yet.

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