Yesterday the Nashville Predators made their first personnel move outside the franchise since last August, picking up forward Richard Clune on waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.
Kristopher Martel at The Predatorial got a few quotes from the Nashville brass, including GM David Poile’s assessment that Clune is “a fearless type of player, plays hard all the time, will engage in fisticuffs if necessary, he’ll make a real good team player.” Ray Harris at Fang Faction dug up some footage from Clune’s time in the NHL, which included a moment of one-ice ignominy at the hands of Rick Rypien (RIP). James Nelson pointed out that he’s Nashville’s first Richard since Richard Lintner. And JR Lind, quick on the draw, nicknamed him The Clune.
On Monday, Peter Fish of Octopus Thrower asked me a few questions about this year’s Nashville Predators. One of them was who would replace Jordin Tootoo now that he’s taken a heel turn to play for the enemy up in Motown. (N.B.: He might not have phrased it exactly like that.) I said I didn’t think the team had an immediate replacement for him. The closest thing on the Nashville roster to a replacement for Tootoo is Brian McGrattan, but only because he and Tootoo are both ready and willing to drop the gloves. McGrattan is a pure enforcer. Tootoo was always more of an agitator, a pest, the kind of guy who coaxes the opposition into angry, dumb penalties (and takes a few of his own) en route to changing the flow of the game.
Richard Clune seems to play that kind of game. So on the surface, at least, it looks like he could be the team’s replacement for Toots in the agitator role. But a guy drafted in 2005 with just 14 NHL games under his belt, picked up off waivers, clearly isn’t the long-term answer for a club like Nashville that has a lot of young forwards in the mix. NHL fans outside of Nashville who buy into the power rankings and predictions that have Nashville on the decline this year probably chuckled when they saw this transaction hit the news, thinking, “Is that the best they can do after losing Suter? It’s going to be a long season in Nashville.”
But unlike some NHL GMs, David Poile isn’t prone to freaking out and making moves just to show he’s doing something. Jeremy Gover over at Section 303 speculates that Clune could be cover for the Milwaukee Admirals in the case of a call-up for forward Michael Latta. That’s music to my ears. In that interview with Octopus Thrower, I told Peter that I’m looking forward to the day when Latta arrives in Nashville because he brings the same kind of physical game as Tootoo, only with more natural offensive talent.
One of the commenters on Jeremy’s post wondered if Clune would have to clear waivers again to be sent to Milwaukee, something that’s still a bit unclear to me since some of the waiver rules have changed with the new CBA. But even if he does disappear on waivers after holding a spot for Latta in the short term, Richard Clune will allow the Nashville Predators to keep a familiar ingredient of their formula – the agitator – in the mix all season.