In one of the more head-turning moves of the opening day of NHL Free Agency we received the following. The Nashville Predators signed Pierre-Cédric Labrie, formerly of the Rockford IceHogs, to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $650,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the AHL.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, TN – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Saturday that the club has signed forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie to a one-year, two-way contract for 2017-18 worth $650,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level.
Labrie, 30 (12/6/86), appeared in 52 games with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in 2016-17, recording one goal, eight points and 96 penalty minutes in 52 games. The 6-foot-3, 226-pound winger has appeared in 178 AHL games with Rockford over the past three seasons, amassing 58 points and 311 penalty minutes during that span. A native of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Labrie has 46 games of NHL experience, all with the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2011-14, tallying five points (2g-3a) and 65 penalty minutes.
Undrafted, Labrie captured the 2012 Calder Cup Championship as a member of the Norfolk Admirals. Since 2007, Labrie has skated for Manitoba, Peoria, Norfolk, Syracuse and Rockford of the AHL, posting 183 points and 1,033 penalty minutes in 566 games.
I believe giving some time to digest this news quickly game me an answer as to why it likely happened. When you think back to the Milwaukee Admirals past two playoff exits to the Grand Rapids Griffins, both sweeps, you immediately think of a Griffins that continually got under the skin of Admirals players and grinded them out. Labrie is a veteran presence that can calm and squash that area of a game and do it around a young Admirals squad to allow the skill players to do what they need to do.
That isn’t to squash Labrie into an enforcer sort of role, either. He is a season removed from scoring 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists) in 66 games… with the IceHogs. In his career he has 566 games of AHL experience as well as 46 games of NHL experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Labrie will turn 31-years old in December and adds to a veteran leadership group for the Admirals that -at the moment- consists of Trevor Smith and Cody Bass. The Admirals currently lack a veteran anchor for the defense, as Adam Pardy has yet to sign anywhere, so that duty goes to a 24-year old named Jimmy Oligny. Goodness knows if the organizational landscape at defense changes after acquiring Alexei Yemelin from the Vegas Golden Knights. But there is always a need for a much more experienced and established veteran waiting in the wings in Milwaukee. In the event a recall is needed (e.g. Matt Irwin, acquiring Pardy in an AHL trade and then signing him to an NHL contract).
What the organization received in Labrie is a proven pro, someone who has good leadership skills, and can step up to the plate against the Tyler Bertuzzi types of the AHL. What this means when it comes to the likes of Adam Payerl and Mike Liambas – I don’t know. But this was a signing that does fit a good role in Milwaukee that is always needed.
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