The Stanley Cup dream is over, shriveled in the desert sun, just like the Predators season and the countdown to Titans season has begun much earlier than anyone expected. Revisiting what went wrong in the series is just opening up an old wound, so now the onus must be put on the offseason one which can and will define the franchise in both the long and short term. Ryan Suter is going to be the most sought after commodity on the market come July 1st and though he has expressed his desire to stay, the right contract and the right situation could change that (A certain team in Detroit will be at the top of the list). His partner in crime Shea Weber will be a restricted free agent and though he’s under the club’s control through at least next season, locking him up to a multi-year contract should be right up there with keeping Suter in the fold. Trade deadline acquisition Paul Gaustad is also heading for free agency and though I’m sure Poille and company will love to keep the faceoff whiz, it must be at the right price, as the team has plenty of young forward depth and overpaying for Gaustad will tie up dollars that could be used on both Weber and Suter.
The prodigal son is another story entirely; Alex Radulov’s return from Russia was hailed to be the X factor to get the team over the top as his offensive exploits in the KHL were second to none. Though he had his moments he did not come as advertised and his (and fellow pending RFA and late season acquisition Andrei Kostitsyn) breaking of curfew forced Trotz to suspend him and shows how selfish he really is (As if the bolting for Russia while still under contract didn’t do it enough). I really think the NHL has seen the last of A-Rad as he will be back in the KHL next season where he will continue to put up staggering offensive numbers against AHL level competition consisting mostly of young kids and washed up talent. I thought that there was a fair chance that if the team went far(Which it didn’t) and Radulov bought into the system (which he didn’t) that this reunion could last beyond this year, it clearly cannot. I really believed and want to continue to believe that Alex has grown up, but clearly he has not and there is no place on a well-run, classy team like the Preds for a mercenary like Radulov.
The team has made great strides and if it wants to continue to compete and take steps forward this offseason will be the key. Though this playoff run is over if management wants to make this a regularity not a passing trend then they must literally put their money where their mouth is and keep this nucleus intact.
Two Video Components for today:
One on where the franchise goes from here and rebuilds from the ashes that were the Phoenix series
And this one where I rant on how Radulov’s presence was a detriment to the team