Tag: Nashville Predators

Beyond the Bradley Center: NHL Trade Deadline Live Updates

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 67 G.P., 34-26-4-3–75 pts., 169 goals scored, 184 goals allowed, 9th place in the Western Conference (T-2nd Midwest Division). Leading active scorer: Michael Latta (9 goals, 26 assists, 35 points). Best Recent Win: March 30, 4-3 over Chicago. Worst Recent Loss: March 27, Lake Erie 1, Milwaukee 0.

UPDATE: 4:55 P.M.

Bringing the trade deadline to a close, as Trey reported, Nashville traded Martin Erat to Washington in exchange for top prospect Filip Forsberg. Interesting again to see the Washington/Nashville dynamic at work here, as the Capitals look for another gem like Joel Ward and might have found one in the popular Erat. The developing Latta marks an interesting throw-in as part of the deal.

Rumors of this trade involving Washington (usually Drew Stafford was the name mentioned) floated all day, but in the end it was the Predators who swung the deal. A couple of minor deals involving goal Jeff Deslauriers to Minnesota and Patrick Kileen to Columbus concluded the transactions. Winnipeg also claimed former Admiral/Predator Mike Santorelli off of waivers today.

Though trade deadline day started slowly, it sure ended with a big bang involving Nashville/Milwaukee and host of other teams. Curious to think about what might have happened had the NHL thrown in another “bonus” hour to this year’s deadline.

UPDATE: 2:37 P.M.

Add Anaheim to the group of buyers. The Ducks picked up former Predator Matthew Lombardi from Phoenix for fellow forward Brandon McMillan. Another former Nashville forward, Steve Sullivan, is on his way to New Jersey in exchange for a seventh-round pick.

UPDATE: 2:25 P.M.

With the deadline now 25 minutes past, Toronto squeezes in a late trade by picking up defenseman Ryan O’Byrne from Colorado for a fourth-round pick. Interesting new from Boston as the Bruins just reunited defenseman Wade Redden with former teammate Zdeno Chara by trading a seventh-round draft pick to St. Louis.

UPDATE: 2:09 P.M.

Two minor deals just filtered in. More upgrades for Columbus, this time its forward Blake Comeau formerly of Calgary, in exchange for a fifth-round pick. San Jose adds forward Raffi Torres from Phoenix for a third-round pick.

UPDATE: 1:42 P.M.

Lots of news on the trade front: Marian Gaborik is headed to Columbus. Jason Pominville on his way to Minnesota. Rangers add plenty of grit in Derek Dorsett, John Moore and Derick Brassard and dump another whopper of a contract in Gaborik. Buffalo gets goalie Matt Hackett and forward Johan Larsson for Pominville.

Earlier Philadelphia decided to roll the dice on another goalie, this time Steve Mason from the Blue Jackets for a third-round pick and former playoff near-hero Michael Leighton (usually of Adirondack).

UPDATE: 1:27 P.M.

A couple of minor trades: First Jussi Jokinen was sent to Pittsburgh from Carolina in exchange for a conditional 7th round pick. Jokinen had previously cleared waivers and the Hurricanes are eating some salary. The one “big” trade that just occurred was Tampa Bay trading rookie sensation Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick to Ottawa in exchange for hot goalie commodity Ben Bishop. Both were elite talents in the AHL a season ago, while Conacher enjoyed a 12 game stint with the Admirals in 2010-2011.

UPDATE: 11:57 A.M.

Edmonton acquired former Predator/Admiral Jerred Smithson from Florida for a fourth-round draft pick. Never the prettiest player, Smithson did make himself a solid home in the Music City for several years. I’m pretty surprised at the amount of return, but the Oilers really need a player like him.

UPDATE: 11:52 A.M.

Two trades to speak of so far, with both having direct consequences on Milwaukee. The most recent was the trade of 34-year-old Nashville defenseman Scott Hannan, who was dealt back to San Jose in exchange for a conditional sixth- or seventh-round draft pick this summer. The quick analysis here is that Predators must feel comfortable with their Admirals call ups along the blueline (especially Victor Bartley) to warrant such a move.

Before that division rival Rockford (Chicago) sent forward Rob Flick to Boston (likely Providence) in exchange for fellow forward Maxime Sauve. Flick was of course the trigger man for the brawl with the IceHogs last season soon to be marked by a Jeremy Smith bobblehead.

UPDATE: 8:57 A.M.

One of my favorite days of the year has finally arrived–its the NHL trade deadline extravaganza! This is the day when teams can make their final transactions via trade to boost their teams for the playoffs or shed some unwanted players for some compensation.

In recent years Nashville has been very active on this day, stockpiling for the playoffs. This year might be a lot different. The Predators currently stand in a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference at 15-14-8 through 37 of 48 games. Unfortunately, every other team in the conference has at least one game in hand on the Predators, making the climb up that much more difficult. Couple that with the fact that the teams around Nashville (Edmonton, Columbus, St. Louis and Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Vancouver) would all be likely buyers/holding steady for the playoff push. Only San Jose (currently sixth), Phoenix, Dallas, Calgary and Colorado are likely to be selling off spare parts.

Most of the “names” available for rent/buy are already off the market (Jagr, Morrow, Clowe, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Murray and Roy), therefore this will likely be a “light” day. But there are still plenty of depth players available. The final day of the regular season is April 27, three and half weeks away.

Anyway, I will try to update this blog throughout the day with meaningful transactions. For now, its just time to sit back and enjoy the show!

So Roundtable . . . While we wait, how do you expect Nashville’s brass to handle today? 1) Trade prospects and load up for another playoff push? 2) Pick away at the seems and add prospects/picks? 3) Stand pat/wait for more waiver wire options? What do you want the Predators to do?

Scott Ford is Back! Predators Swap Lajunen for the Former Admirals Captain

Perhaps looking to shore the leadership of their AHL affiliate, the Nashville Predators today sent forward Jani Lajunen to St. Louis for former Admirals captain Scott Ford.

Ford was immediately assigned to Milwaukee, where he will resume his former duties of patrolling the Admirals blueline. Ford spent the past four seasons with Milwaukee, averaging nearly 70 games per season. The Fort St. John, B.C. native also continues the Admirals recent trend of getting tougher, as Ford averaged over 115 minutes in penalties over the same period.

Ford struggled some to adapt to being captain of his new team this season, posting a minus-14 rating in 43 games after posting career numbers in Milwaukee last season. Ford’s four goals, seven assists and 11 points (and his astonishing plus-24 rating) were all highs in the AHL.

After 16 points a year ago, Lajunen was also a bit of disappointment this season, scoring just one goal and five points, along with a minus-nine rating. However, Lajunen was one of the Admirals best defensive forwards in 2011-2012.

Its a curious time for a trade between the two clubs considering their place in the standings. Currently Milwaukee sits in 11th place with 52 points, while the Rivermen hold down the 12th slot at 51 points. The two teams faced each other nine times already, with three more matchups still to come.

So Roundtable . . . What do you think of this trade? Are you happy to have Ford back? Do you wish he never left? Was it time for Nashville to pull the plug on Lajunen?

Beyond the Bradley Center: Turning Points and Paul Fenton talk

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 49 G.P., 23-20-3-3–52 pts., 128 goals scored, 142 goals allowed, 11th place in the Western Conference (3rd Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (10 goals, 27 assists, 30 points). Best Recent Win: Feb. 17, 3-1 vs. Abbotsford. Worst Recent Loss: Feb. 16, Charlotte 8 at Milwaukee 2.

A handful of times during an AHL season, most teams get to enjoy 3-game-in-3-nights stretches where all three games are at home. For coaching staffs and players, these dates get circled on the calender as possible big weekends, or at least a chance to pick up some much needed points. This past weekend Milwaukee got through just fine, picking up a sliver of ground with four out of six points.

However, this weekend meant a whole lot more. On Friday Milwaukee staged a miracle comeback to steal a game away from San Antonio. Then on Saturday night in front of a large, and unlikely to leave early crowd, the Admirals posted a stinker losing 8-2 to Charlotte in a game that actually could have been much worse. Yet, Milwaukee turned things around one day later by beating Abbotsford 3-1, taking two big points from a team that also got pounded the previous night.

In hind sight games like these ones have the chance to stand out as “turning points.” The question is will we look back at this weekend and think this was where Milwaukee turned around the ship, or will we look back and think this is where it sunk?

In other news, ESPN.com and TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun put a nice plug in for Predators Assistant/Milwaukee Admirals General Manager Paul Fenton in a post about possible future NHL GMs on Friday:

4. Paul Fenton, Nashville Predators: A day-oner with the Preds’ franchise, Fenton was director of player personnel for the first eight years before being elevated to assistant GM in June 2006. Nashville GM David Poile has told me several times over the past few years that he believes Fenton has what it takes to be a good GM, and I wholeheartedly concur. Let’s face it: Fenton has been front and center in the organization’s drafting and developing of players, and if there’s a team that relies heavily on developing its own talent, it’s the Predators, who haven’t had the luxury to spend like the big boys. They do things the right way and they don’t rush talent. Fenton, 53, clearly has an eye for identifying and developing talent, and he’d make a fine GM.

I completely agree with this assessment and am actually surprised that his name hasn’t been mentioned more often for openings (of course unlike coaches, these openings don’t come around quite as often). While I am busy making plugs for team personnel, I think current Nashville assistant coach Lane Lambert is fully deserving of an NHL head coaching job, and I expect him to find one in the not-so-far future.

So Roundtable . . . A couple months down the road, will we look back at this weekend as a turning point? What are your feelings about Paul Fenton? Does he deserve a head G.M. gig in the NHL?

Beyond the Bradley Center: Admirals Right the Ship as the Holiday Home Stretch Approaches

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 20 G.P., 9-8-2-1–21 pts., 55 goals scored, 60 goals allowed, 10th place in the Western Conference. Leading scorer: Austin Watson (8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points).

Best Recent Win: Nov. 30 3-2 over Chicago. Worst Recent Loss: Nov. 20, 5-3 to the Wolves. Key Upcoming Matchup: Dec. 9 at Charlotte.

Has Milwaukee turned a corner in this young season? Three wins in a row, and stretch of points recorded in five consecutive games has to mean something.

Perhaps more importantly, the Admirals appear to be improving defensively, playing three close to the vest contests in a row. Certainly if Milwaukee is going to make any noise this season, the Admirals need to be one of the AHL’s best defensive teams.

Considering all the road games on the schedule to date (continuing through Dec. 11 at Charlotte), it is hard not to be pleased with a 9-8-2-1 start, even if it leaves Milwaukee on the outside looking in at the Western Conference playoff race. Home cooking awaits over the holidays, with nine of the next 11 games at the Bradley Center after the trip to North Carolina (to face the South Division leading Checkers), including five in a row at home.

Meanwhile, my vote for Mr. Movember has to be Austin Watson. The AHL rookie scored six goals and five assists in the month, recorded his first multi-goal game, and is looking like a solid NHL prospect. Exactly what David Poile and Paul Fenton were looking for when they drafted the Ann Arbor, Michigan native in the first round of the 2010 entry draft. He really does like a Predator in waiting, even if that opportunity is one he will have to continue to wait for.

So Roundtable . . . Are you ready for a batch of home games? Is time for Milwaukee to start ‘making some hay,’ and win in bunches. Is the recent streak a positive sign? What are your impressions of Austin Watson, am I too high on him?

Van Guilder Returns, Bouvet-Morrissette Added and Preds Sign Pair

A key to the Milwaukee puzzle, Mark Van Guilder, is back with the Admirals for the 2012-2013 season after a signing an AHL contract today.

This will be the fourth full season for the popular forward, who posted career highs last season in goals (12), assists (15), points (27) and games played (70). The two-way specialist chipped in three game winners in 2011-2012 and posted a +8 rating. A couple of features I wrote over the last two seasons spelled out Van Guilder’s positive impact on Milwaukee. First a story on Van Guilder’s leadership on and off the ice. Second a story on MVG’s 2011 playoff heroics and his Kelly Cup run with Cincinnati.

This will be the first professional season for Andre Bouvet-Morrissette, who went undrafted by NHL teams. The 6-3 winger posted 39 goals and 33 assists for the Drummondville Voltigeurs last season, combined with 75 PIMs in 63 games. The Becancour, Quebec native added two more tallies in four playoff games. The AHL contract comes on the heals of news back in May that Bouvet-Morrissette had signed with Nashville, in what was thought at the time to be a preemptive move by the Predators to keep the prospect away from Montreal.

In addition Nashville recently announced the resigning of forward Mike Fisher (yesterday) and the signing of free agent defenseman Scott Hannan (last Friday). Fisher is back in the fold for two more years at $4.2 million per season. The 33-year-old Hannan will earn a $1 million, one-year/one-way deal to serve as another veteran on the Predators blueline.

So Roundtable . . . How would you like to welcome back Mark Van Guilder and what are your favorite MVG moments?

What do you think of the addition of Bouvet-Morrissette and what role do you see him playing in Milwaukee? Power forward, checker, fighter, scorer, or some sort of combination?

What do you think about Nashville’s addition of Scott Hannan? Does his addition shore up the Predators’ defensive depth chart?

The Shea Weber Offer Sheet

First Ryan Suter leaves, now maybe Shea Weber one year early?

Today big news flooded the hockey world as current Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber signed a MEGA contract offer sheet to join the Philadelphia Flyers.

The total compensation looks to be north of $100 million dollars, likely more than the matching contracts Zach Parise and Ryan Suter just signed with Minnesota on July 4th. Speculation was out in various news outlets that after Suter left Nashville, Weber was not terribly pleased. But I am not sure anyone within the Predators organization could have been prepared for this abrupt decision.

Prior to this contract offer the off season had not exactly gone to plan for Philadelphia, which lost defenseman Matt Carle to Tampa Bay, and may see future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger retire. Another team, Detroit, which heavily pursued Suter, was likely interested in Weber to via a trade. Some movement speculation had been surfacing in recent days, but Nashville had yet to pull the trigger.

Now Nashville is left with a pair of choices. They can match the contract and lock up their franchise cornerstone for the next 14 years, keeping Weber’s services until he reaches 40-years-old. Or let Weber sign in Philadelphia and receive a draft pick compensation package worth the neighborhood of four first-round draft picks.

Certainly a tough call for an organization that has yet to get Weber interested on any kind of lengthy contract. The captain played last season on a one-year, $7.5 million deal awarded via arbitration.

So why did I write this post? Much like losing Suter, the loss of Weber would have a rippling effect on the entire Nashville organization. Losing Weber without receiving a single NHL player in return takes that even further. First round draft picks are great, but considering they would be coming from Philadelphia, a team likely to finish in the NHL’s top echelon for the foreseeable future, they would be almost-second rounders with no guarantees of panning out.

Will Nashville match? I can honestly say I have no idea, and have yet to read anything official tipping G.M. David Poile’s hand, other than the team’s broad statement that they will match any offer sheet. Travis Hughes at Broad Street Hockey sums it up pretty good though. But this isn’t entirely Poile’s choice. Obviously, Predators ownership must sign off on it, and that means signing off on a LOT of money.

One of the contract years could pay Weber $26 million in a single season according to Darren Draeger of TSN via Twitter (DarrenDreger):  Its going to be fascinating to see financial terms of Weber’s offer sheet. Hearing in one calendar year, he could make $26 mil.

On the total compensation package according to Dreger:  Weber will receive $14 mil in each of 1st 4 years. $12 mil in next 2 yrs. $6mil in following 4 yrs…then $3mil and $1mil, $1mil,$1mil,$1mil.

That is a huge front-loaded contract. As far as some of the other restricted free agency deals from the past and how they’ve worked out? I bet Anaheim is glad they passed on matching the offer sheet Dustin Penner signed with Edmonton. The jury is still out on whether Buffalo matching Thomas Vanek’s offer sheet was a good idea.

Certainly, this is just the beginning of this story. There will be plenty more to come in the coming days as Nashville has exactly seven of them to decide on whether to match or let Weber go.

Update as of 11 A.M. of this morning:

The Nashville Predators and G.M. David Poile have issued a statement in regards to Weber’s offer sheet. Here is the quote from Poile in the press release:

“We are in receipt of the offer sheet signed between the Philadelphia Flyers and Shea Weber. Under the rules pertaining to an offer sheet, the Predators have one week to decide whether to match or accept the compensation.  We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea, our intention would be to match and retain Shea. Our ownership has provided us with the necessary resources to build a Stanley Cup-winning team. Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it and all of its ramifications in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short and long-term.

“We do not anticipate any further comments on this situation until we make our decision within the next seven days.”

So Roundtable . . . What do think of today’s developments? Must Nashville match it in order to save the franchise? Does that outrageous contract make it impossible? If you were David Poile, how would you proceed? What is the residual effect from this decision on the rest of the Predators organization, namely Jon Blum and Ryan Ellis?

Predators Sign Mueller to Another Two-Way Deal

As other veteran members of the Milwaukee Admirals move on to other destinations, at least one key piece of this past year’s puzzle is back for another go-around with the Nashville Predators organization.

Official as of Thursday morning, talented forward Chris Mueller agreed to a one-year two-way contract valued at $550,000 at the NHL level, $105,000 at the AHL level with Nashville. The significant change to the terms comes in the AHL portion, where Mueller nearly doubles his take-home pay from last year’s $65,000 at Milwaukee. Also, at the end of the contract Mueller becomes an unrestricted free agent who will be free to sign with any other team if he chooses. Mueller was an RFA going into this season.

To say Mueller was important to the Admirals over the past two seasons is a major understatement. Mueller played 73 games in Milwaukee last year, finishing fifth in the AHL with 32 goals. Mueller also led the Admirals with 60 points and was the team’s only All-Star. It was the second straight year that the Buffalo, New York native ranked on the top of Milwaukee’s scoring charts as Mueller posted 24 goals and 50 points in 67 games for the Admirals in 2010-2011.

Heading into 2012-2013 Mueller has 19 games of NHL experience, but has yet to record his first goal. However, Mueller does have three assists in those games. Not to bad for a player who went undrafted after his college years at Michigan State.

So Roundtable . . . How would you like to welcome back Chris Mueller? Is this finally the year he sticks on with Nashville full-time? Are you hoping this isn’t Mueller’s last year with the Predators organization?

Geoffrion’s Big Night in Buffalo

It might be time for Admirals fans to start facing the facts.  Forward Blake Geoffrion may not be coming back to Milwaukee.

Through his first nine National Hockey League games Geoffrion was slowly finding his footing, scoring three goals and four points while logging the fewest minutes of any Nashville player.

Then came Sunday’s game at Buffalo.  Despite pocketing goal number four in the first period off a lucky deflection, Geoffrion and the Predators trailed Buffalo 3-1 with under three minutes remaining in the third period.  Yet, Nashville coach Barry Trotz continued to show confidence in the 2010 Hobey Baker winner.

At the 17:33 mark, Geoffrion stuffed in his own rebound past goaltender Ryan Miller to make it 3-2.  One minute later Trotz again put Geoffrion out for a crucial face off, which Geoffrion won back to defenseman Cody Franson.  Franson let a point shot blast go that Geoffrion tipped out of the air and past Miller to give the Brentwood, Tennessee native his first NHL hat trick and more importantly, tie hockey game at 3-3.

To add some icing to the cake, former Admiral forward Martin Erat scored the game-winner 27 seconds into overtime to give Nashville an improbable win at a crucial point in the year.  With the two points the Predators are back in the playoffs, tied with Chicago and Los Angeles for the fifth spot in the West with 86.

“Obviously we needed those points with the playoff race going on,” Geoffrion told NHL Live! Monday afternoon.  “We’re just happy to get the two wins (against Buffalo and Detroit) and come back home to Nashville.”

Geoffrion credits his time in Milwaukee for preparing him to be an impact player in the NHL.

“The Predators’ theory is that the road to Nashville is through Milwaukee,” Geoffrion said. “I am very thankful for the coaches and the people who’ve helped me get to this point in my career (playing in Nashville).  Hopefully I won’t let them down.”

To watch Blake Geoffrion’s highlight reel against Buffalo, click here.

To read my feature on the impact that former Admirals players like Blake Geoffrion are having in the NHL with Nashville and with other teams, click here.

To read my story on Geoffrion and other former Wisconsin Badgers who changed teams around the NHL trading deadline, click here.

Blake Geoffrion in Nashville Update

Blake Geoffrion was a healthy scratch for the first time in his brief NHL career last night against the San Jose Sharks.

I am not sure what exactly that means for Geoffrion’s time in the Music City, but in this case I believe it had to do more with Nashville’s opponent San Jose (one of the NHL’s fastest teams) than coach Barry Trotz tweaking with his lineup.

In five games of action so far in Nashville, Geoffrion has two goals, while playing an average of 7:58 of icetime.  Geoffrion’s first goal came off of a feed from fellow ex-Badger Ryan Suter.  Two nights later Geoffrion scored his team’s game winner in a 3-0 victory over the Western Conference’s top team, Vancouver.

“Its been a dream come true playing in the National Hockey League,” Geoffrion said. “Now that I’m here my new goal is to try to stay here as long as I can, whether that’s 10 games or 10 years.”

For more on Geoffrion’s time in Nashville, check out my feature on Madison.com, which includes the stories of other former and current UW players that were moved around the trade deadline.

Later this week I will also have a feature on Milwaukeeadmirals.com on the stories of former Admirals who are now enjoying successful careers in the National Hockey League, including Suter, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson and Sheldon Brookbank of the Anaheim Ducks.

Preds Switch Lindback for Dekanich; Blum Recalled

Tuesday, February 22 proved to be a eventful morning in the Music City.

The Nashville Predators made a pair of in house transactions before most team employees had finished their morning coffee, first swapping goaltenders by recalling Mark Dekanich from Milwaukee to replace Anders Lindback, who was sent down to the Admirals.  This will be Lindback’s first assignment to the AHL, while Dekanich will be making his fourth trip up to the NHL this season.

From December 4 through December 17, Lindback was the hottest goaltender in the NHL, winning six of seven starts, including two shutouts, and allowing three or more goals just once.  However the Gavle, Sweden native has went cold of late in his limited action, losing four of his last five decisions, and getting lit up for six goals by the Chicago Blackhawks on January 16.

This will definitely be a conditioning assignment for Lindback, who needs some in-game action to re-find his talents.  He should get plenty of opportunities as the Admirals face a four game in five night stretch starting tonight in Houston.

On the other hand, Dekanich will be looking to expand on his one game of NHL experience and auditioning for a new contract next season.

Meanwhile, Jonathon Blum will be making his first career trip to the National Hockey League, confirming the rumors that were swirling around the internet yesterday.  Blum, who is tied for second in the Admirals in scoring, will try to help out a Nashville blueline that has been hit hard by injuries as of late, including Ryan Suter.  Suter, who logs around 25 minutes of ice time per game (second only to Shea Weber on the Predators), has been declared out for tonight’s game against Columbus.

This is a great opportunity for the 22-year old Blum to show something at the National Hockey League level, but I for one am surprised that Nashville chose him over Aaron Johnson, a player with an extensive NHL resume to his credit.  The Predators are in the midst of a dogfight in the Western Conference for a playoff spot, sitting in fifth with 70 points, but Nashville is just two points ahead of 11th place Chicago.

The AHL race is nearly as tight, with Milwaukee sitting in the top spot in the West Division with 71 points, but the Admirals are just four points in front of sixth place Oklahoma City.

So Roundtable, what is your reaction to these transactions?  Are you excited to see Lindback in the Admirals uniform, and how do you think Blum will fare up in Nashville?