Offseason Losses & Gains (Part 4 of 4)

Gaines Part 2

In wrapping up our Losses & Gains four-parter, I’m going to talk about what the new additions to the Predators mean for the 2010-2011 season, a season that is just 8 more Saturday nights away.

Additions through Trades

Matt Halischuk

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 06: Jack Hillen #38 of the New York Islanders defends against Matt Halischuk #16 of the New Jersey Devils during their NHL game at the Prudential Center on November 6, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(photo: Yardbarker)

Halischuk came to the Preds by trading Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils. His role in the club for the upcoming season was talked about in part 2 of our series. To recap, he was on the fast track to the Devils roster, yet he probably won’t be able to make the Preds roster because we are stacked with right wings that already have guaranteed roster spots. He will get called up if need be. Halischuk has one year left on his entry-level contract and is set to make $875 000 at the NHL level. The deal is two-way which means sending him to Milwaukee won’t be a problem. The best news for the Predators, Halischuk will be a restricted free agent next summer. If the Predators organization likes what it sees, they have first dibs on locking him up.

Ryan Parent

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 07: Ryan Parent #77 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 7, 2010 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo: Yardbarker)

Parent was sent to the Predators from Philadelphia for the rights to negotiate with Dan Hamhuis before the July 1st deadline. Parent signed a one-way deal. The implications of this signing was discussed in a previous post. Essentially, Parent will be playing in the NHL next season or the Preds will be eating the salary of 2 defensemen (Sulzer signed a two-year one way deal and played most of last season in the AHL).

To make matters more interesting, Ryan Ellis, the Predators first round draft pick in 2009, has decided to skip the Team Canada World Junior Championship Summer Camp. He is still eligible to make the team if the Predators send him back to the OHL, but it appears as though he is gearing up to make a run at the roster. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo that the Preds now have 6 d-men signed to one-way deals with another likely to sign soon. If Ellis is successful, who will get sacrificed? Cody Franson? The RFA still hasn’t signed. Are the teams so far apart on a deal that Franson is left on the side, with Ellis the potential benefactor? Franson is supposed to add spark on the power play. Ellis is supposed to add spark on the power play. Ellis is actually a master at making plays. His size might be a deterrent that could hold him from making the roster this season, but if you have watched the World Junior Championships over the last couple of seasons, you would have probably seen some beautiful plays by the Windsor Spitfire.

Sergei Kostitsyn
NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 16: Sergei Kostitsyn #74 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against Vladimir Zharkov #28 of the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 16, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Canadiens 2-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo: Yardbarker)

Kostitsyn was sent to Nashville when the Predators sent the negotiating rights of Dustin Boyd and Dan Ellis to the Montreal Canadiens.

When Kostitsyn was traded to the Predators as an RFA, that pretty much meant the kid would play in Nashville or the KHL. Chatter amongst the Predator faithful questioned whether we even wanted him on our team. The answer is a resounding yes!

He has had his fair share of issues. Poor attitude? Check. Not a team player? Check. Scandelous associates? check.

Early in the 2009-2010 campaign the Canadiens tried to send him to their American Hockey League affiliate in Hamilton. He refused and instead demanded to be traded. The Habs responded by suspending Kostitsyn. Soon after, Kostitsyn reported to Hamilton but left the team after 5 games. The Habs suspended him again.

As if his inability to be a “company man” wasn’t reason enough to run, he also was considered to be lazy and not really into team practice. Plus, Kostitsyn allegedly has ties to some street gang member who is currently on trial in Montreal.

As I said, he has had his fair share of issues and he is coming to a team that prides itself on discipline and buying into a team system. What indication do we have that he will in any way fit into our system?

First, take a look at his contract. Kostitsyn took a pay cut from last year and is making $550 000, which is $25 000 less than he made last year. A one year deal was the only deal to make. If he doesn’t work out, we cut him loose and take the small financial hit. If he does work out, we sign him to a long term deal next summer. Kostitsyn will still be a restricted free agent. It’s a low risk-very high payoff for GM David Poile.

Second, it has been reported in the French media in Canada that Francis Bouillon, his teammate in Montreal, has said he would look out for him in Nashville. That has to be a good thing and under the new leadership of Shea Weber, do you really see him getting away with the stuff he pulled in Montreal here in Nashville?

Third, Kostitsyn wants to be a star. He played on a line with Patrick Kane in the OHL and had well over 100 points. True that your production in junior really is not an indication of what you can produce in the National Hockey League, but he is also coming to a team that has traditionally been goal starved. He is on a one-way contract so his place in Nashville is set, at least for the start of the season. If he scores a few goals early, the fans will love him and he will get the one thing he wanted in Montreal but was never able to get: attention. That’s right, attention in a non-traditional hockey market. Imagine that.

Free Agent Signings

Jonas Andersson and Linus Klasen

What do the signings of Jonas Andersson and Linus Klasen mean for the Predators next season? Andersson signed a one-way contract worth $675 000 and will be an RFA at the end of next season. Klasen is on a two-way deal worth $900 000 at the NHL level and will also be an RFA come next July.

Andersson was selected 33rd overall (second round) in the 1999 draft, by the Predators. In the early 2000s, he played for Milwaukee but never really found his niche so off to Europe he went. The Swede eventually made his way to the KHL last year and played well enough to catch David Poile’s attention, registering 7 goals and 13 assists in 30 games. He also earned a spot on the national World Championships team. Andersson scored 6 goals at the tournament in Germany, the most on his team.

Andersson plays the left wing. So does Sergei Kostitsyn. Our only other natural left winger is Steve Sullivan. As it turns out, Linus Klasen is also a left winger, but that he signed a two-way deals leads me to believe he will start the season in the AHL, given our logjam at forward. Klasen is only 5’8 and perhaps his size contributed to his never having been drafted into the NHL. Last year, Klasen played in the Swedish Elite League with Södertälje SK and registered 51 points in 51 games.

Fellow bloggers section303.com provided a story about Klasen when the signing broke. Check out the videos of his goals section303 posted. You’ll be hoping he makes the roster out of training camp, but how?

These signings have provided some roster issues for the Predators. There are too many forwards and this doesn’t even include depth signing Jamie Lundmark, another former Rangers first round draft pick gone bust ending up in the Predators organization. Let’s just assume he starts the season in Milwaukee.

The Predators will have to make some more moves before the season starts or once it gets rolling the wire waiver will be busy with Predators property.

The lines might look something like the following:

Sullivan-Lombardi-Erat
Kostitsyn-Wilson-Hornqvist
Andersson-Legwand-Dumont
Tootoo-Goc-Ward

No Klasen, though I could see a situation where Tootoo goes back to the right and Ward is the odd-man out. I’m not sure I would favor such a solution since he were well over 80% winning percentage when Ward registered a point. Another potential situation would be that if Andersson is a bust, Klasen is in. It could even happen that Klasen beats Andersson out at training camp. The Predators have sent one-way contracts to the minors before, just ask Alexander Sulzer.

No Smithson or Spaling, two of our penalty killers. Don’t be concerned. Our PK was rotten last year so changing it up should be good. Kostitsyn and Lombardi can play on the penalty kill too. Spaling’s future with the Predators seemsmore secure than that of Smithson’s, who I see being waived come the start of the season. My lineup doesn’t include Cal O’Reilly, who is also on a one-way contract. And of course Wade Belak will play only when some toughness is needed to the roster, but who do you bench for that?

One thing is for sure, the Predators are going to field an offensively minded team, at least on paper.

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Tags: Cal O'Reilly Jonas Andersson Linus Klasen Nashville Predators Ryan Parent Sergei Kostitsyn

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