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Long In The Sabretooth: An Ice Age Long Off-Season!

2019-12-01

The regular season is finally upon us!

 

Eric Wolf and the Nashville Predators had a quieter than usual off-season, however, some under the radar moves were made by the team that were overshadowed by the onslaught of moves and headlines that other teams made.

 

Where Wolf kept busy, was re-signing his own players and trying to keep the Predators core intact. The Predators were tasked with having to re-sign Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner, Tomas Hertl, and Erik Gudbranson.

 

“When you have to get 4 of your top 6 forwards under contract in one off-season, with only so much cap space available, it’s a little daunting.” Wolf said. As a result, there was a casualty during the re-signing process. “We couldn’t re-sign everybody while comfortably staying under the cap, so unfortunately we had to cut ties with Erik Gudbranson.”

 

Erik Gudbranson was dealt to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 5th round pick in 2020.

 

“We really like Gudbranson. We brought him here for a reason a season ago to solidify our bottom pairing and to provide some toughness to our blueline. But he became a cap casualty this summer. Keeping him would’ve meant we would only have about 200k in cap space, and that was just way too close for comfort. So our hand was forced and we unfortunately had to move him.”

 

The following week after, is when the biggest news of Nashville’s off-season came out… The Nashville Predators traded long-time forward, and fan favourite – Jeff Skinner, to the Colorado Avalanche for Tom Wilson.

 

“This was a very tough trade for us to make, but it was also a long time coming.” Wolf said. “We knew we would eventually have to make a trade like this as far back as the beginning of last season. But it’s never easy when the casualty is someone like Jeff Skinner, who has been here since Day 1.”

 

Jeff Skinner, originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in the inaugural draft as the 61st overall pick, tallied 109 goals, 137 assists, for 246 points in 376 games for the Predators.

 

“We would’ve kept Skinner under circumstances that allowed us to do so, but unfortunately our hand was forced and we had to make a move to better the long term success of our franchise. Our right wing position has been a sore spot for a while, and with the surplus of top 6 left wings in our arsenal, it made sense to move Skinner, a left winger, for a right winger in Tom Wilson.”

 

Tom Wilson comes over to the Nashville Predators from Colorado, where he split the season playing for the New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche. Wilson enjoyed a very rare long tenure in the Rangers organization for 4 seasons before being dealt to Colorado last year. Nashville is now Wilson’s 3rd team in the EHE where he hopes to have another long tenure in the organization.

 

“I think we missed having a player like Wilson last year in the playoffs. Our top 6 has a lot of ‘finesse’ players, but we feel we were lacking some toughness and a power forward in our top 6. Wilson not only helps solve our right wing woes, but his play style is going to inject energy into our forward core. We’re very excited to bring Tom Wilson to Nashville where we anticipate he will spend a long time wearing the gold and navy.” Wolf said. "Plus, Tom Wilson is a ridiculously attractive man, and we felt with acquiring him, it would bring more hunnies to the rink, and more women at the rink side can only boost our team morale."

 

After the big off-season trade was completed, the Predators shifted their focus to free agency where their number 1 goal was to find a 3rd line left winger, the void that was left by Skinner.

 

“We were pretty active in free agency trying to acquire depth at the NHL and AHL levels for our franchise, but we kept striking out on a few of our targets, or the prices got too high.”

 

Although the Predators were able to find much needed veteran forwards for San Antonio like Nathan Gerbe, Ryan White, and Andy Miele, they were unsuccessful in finding anyone for their pro team in Nashville to take over 3rd line left wing duties.

 

So back to the trade front they went… The Nashville Predators, after striking out in free agency, shipped Zac Dalpe, a 3rd Rnd Pick and a 4th Rnd Pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Matt Calvert.

 

The Predators is also Calvert's 3rd EHE team. Calvert spent 5 seasons with Colorado before spending half a season with the Canadiens last year. Calvert is expected to start on Nashville's 3rd line this season.

 

“You never like giving up picks when you had a chance to sign someone for ‘free’ in free agency, but this is why we accumulate picks over the course of the season and use them for instances like this. Plus, we like Calvert. He was a target of ours we identified early to complete our bottom 6. So when we called Andre Deblois in Montreal, talks happened quickly and a trade was made within about 15 minutes. Montreal and I have a good relationship, so it’s always nice to be able to conduct business with him.”

 

Perhaps the BIGGEST move this off-season in Nashville wasn’t in terms of player personnel. The Predators shocked everybody when they elected to not re-sign their previous head coach, Mike Sullivan, and instead promoted Rod Brind’Amour from the San Antonio Rampage!

 

Rod Brind'Amour gets promoted to head coach of the Nashville Predators after spending two seasons with their AHL Affiliate the San Antonio Rampage

 

“I’m sure it was unexpected from a lot of people. This was a very tough decision to make. Whenever you have two elite NHL level head coaches in your system, I feel like that is a very good problem to have. But good problems come with very hard decisions. We thank Mike Sullivan for his 3 years of service as the Predators head coach, and getting us to our first western conference final last season. But what came down to making our final decision was the fact that Brind’Amour is more in line with the type of play style we want moving forward. Brind’Amour brings an emphasis on team defense and playing a more well rounded defensive game style, which is something we want implemented here because despite our high goal output last season, we also gave up way too many goals. So it all comes down to culture and what we felt was the better direction moving forward to making us successful, and Brind’Amour fits that mould more.” Wolf concluded.

 

That concludes all of the news and musings from the Nashville Predators 2019-2020 off-season!

 

Let’s drop the puck!




Thomas Gidlow

Actually like the coaching decision there. Brindy is only going to get better as he goes. Well done sir - see you on the ice. ;)

Long In The Sabretooth: An Ice Age Long Off-Season!
Tom Wilson acquisition; Brind'Amour promotion highlight Preds off-season

• 1 teams Like this  13 days
Cisco Valle

Great write up, you have an awesome core in Nashville.

Long In The Sabretooth: An Ice Age Long Off-Season!
Tom Wilson acquisition; Brind'Amour promotion highlight Preds off-season

• 1 teams Like this  13 days
Martins Auzins

Very well laid out article, more and more teams are doing spectacular job on these, you guys should be proud!

Long In The Sabretooth: An Ice Age Long Off-Season!
Tom Wilson acquisition; Brind'Amour promotion highlight Preds off-season

• 1 teams Like this  13 days
Eric Wolf Thanks man! I am no where near as article-savvy as you, Doug, Kyle or Thomas is, but I try my best to make mine at least readable! I like to write them for my own personal reasons as well as it is a great tool to record your teams history.
13 days  1 teams Like this