Happy Monday, everyone. Today marks the day that all NHL teams must submit qualifying offers to their crop of restricted free agents (RFAs) by 5 pm EST or else they will become unrestricted free agents (UFAs). The Nashville Predators current RFAs include: Filip Forsberg, Calle Järnkrok, Petter Granberg, Cody Hodgson, Stefan Elliott, Garrett Noonan, and Gabriel Bourque. Who stays and who becomes a free agent?
Well, let’s be serious here. Forsberg is going to be getting paid, BIG, and is likely getting a long-term contract worked out. Järnkrok is also likely getting a rather nice contract worked out. As for everyone else on that list? It’s questionable.
Granberg was put in an awkward place last season. He was entering the 2015-16 season injured and up with the NHL outfit of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs attempted to pass him through waivers to get him to the Toronto Marlies (AHL) but the Predators claimed him instead. He spent a cup of coffee as part of the Milwaukee Admirals in his first in-game action in the season and was thrust into the fires of the NHL in Nashville where the 23-year old had only played a career number of 8 games previously. He was never going to blow people away how he played. He was injured to start the year and needed to really find his stride in-game at a level of professional hockey he wasn’t used to. Should he be brought back it might be smarter to attempt to sign him to a new deal with a two-way contract in-mind. He can be a solid shutdown defenseman. He just needs a healthy Summer without the instant microscope of NHL quality of play weighing on top of him.
Hodgson was signed last season hoping to bank on a low cost high reward type of signing. His contract wasn’t bad. His play at the NHL, more than anything really his consistency, was bad. He turned up in Milwaukee after clearing waivers. Acted like a professional from the moment he arrived. And then he vanished towards the end of the season. This was due to a nagging injury, back spasms, which were greatly hampering more than just his ability to play the game. I’m hoping that the treatment he sought out has worked out for the absolute best and that Hodgson is able to return to a rink this Fall. I doubt that the Predators will be the ones to to offer up an opportunity to do that though. Even if NHL teams are fishing for him it would have to be with starting in the AHL first as the option. That or he could venture overseas where he could possibly pocket some more cash than he otherwise would as an NHL/AHL fringe player.
Elliott is someone who I not only want to be given a qualifying offer but a proper multi-year contract. I feel a potential third defensive line of Elliott on the right with Anthony Bitetto on the left would work extremely well. It would be a good pairing on opening night of the Predators 2016-17 season if it had to be. Otherwise, Elliott can start in the AHL and be your go-to option in the event of a call-up. Elliott should be brought back. He’s a strong two-way player who seems to be getting better the longer his pro experience goes.
Noonan might make some in Nashville sigh given how his pro career has panned out through his first two full pro seasons have manifested themselves as mainly an ECHL defenseman. That said, he was the Cincinnati Cyclones best defenseman last season by a good margin and had no ability to really push anyone out of the Admirals AHL defensive group. That chance is there for him in the 2016-17 season and he could look to take a very strong ECHL season and carry it into the AHL. It worked for Taylor Aronson in the 2014-15 season. Why not Noonan?
Bourque is a real mystery man to me who will likely be left out in the cold because of names such as Miikka Salomäki, Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson passing him by. You can even make the argument that Cody Bass, Kevin Fiala, and Pontus Åberg surpassed him. I don’t know what Bourque’s injury was last season that caused him to miss as much time as he did, do a conditioning assignment (look good), get called up from the conditioning assignment early just to not play, get another conditioning assignment (looked even better), and then sat the rest of the season. Either it was an undisclosed injury that came in waves and shut him down or he was given the notification that he might get today which is that the Predators just don’t have ice-time for him anymore. I would be shocked if he gets brought back.
By the way, that last sentence will be a rather legitimate one in regards to how all of these RFAs receiving or not receiving qualifying offers will go today. Why is that? Because I will be driving from Caledonia, Wisconsin to Nashville, Tennessee all day today. I won’t be able to bring up any of the RFA news or signings that crop up. My focus will be on the road. So, I advise you to keep your eyes open towards the Nashville Predators website and your trusted Nashville media peoples for all the latest on that front today.
So, I won’t be dropping any news today when it comes but I will be attending the Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces on the ice, getting to know some of the new ones that will be heading to Milwaukee later this Fall, and some of the newbies that were drafted just days ago. I also think it will be a fun way for me to get to see a lot of you Nashville readers in-person. I’m guessing that I’ll be the one who looks the most like a tourist. Still, if you see a person with this face, give him a wave. I’d be happy to give a wave right back.
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