Over the next couple of weeks I will be bringing you some free agency previews as teams get eliminated from the playoffs. Here is the first edition, enjoy!
We all remember the summer Dan Hamhuis left the city of Nashville for a bigger hockey market of Vancouver. On a personal level, I also remember how he said the fans in Vancouver were better than the fans in Nashville (only to backtrack that statement earlier this year). Since that time, fortune has favored the boys in blue with a Stanley Cup appearance and three Northwest Division conference titles. For the Predators? Well not so much…the Hamhuis move didn’t affect us much the first two years he was gone, but when we really got down to the nitty-gritty and Suter left us like Hamhuis did, we were left in an unfavorable position. We had defenseman in the ranks with Jonathon Blum, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi…but only one of them stepped up when they needed to do so. You could throw Mattias Ekholm in the maybe pile as well, as he’s developing in Milwaukee still (which we knew would happen when we drafted him).
But now Vancouver finds themselves in an unenviable position. They’re now the prey, and the predator is…well, the Predators. For months it had been speculated that Mason Raymond and the Preds were a match made in heaven. Raymond, who is reduced to a third line role for the Canucks is seen by many to be at least a 2nd line player on most teams, but potentially a first line player on the Predators. Obviously he would be the favorable choice at the Left Winger spot, and that would be ideal sliding him in on a line with Fisher and Hornqvist. Even if he is unable to beat out Colin Wilson at the Left Winger spot, he would make a great second line pairing at the Left Wing with Legwand and Beck (unless of course there is somebody else in that slot, maybe Forsberg if he’s not paired with our draft pick from this summer). That for sure puts the Predators in a lot better position Top 6 Forward wise, but could it be better?
Enter Derek Roy. The former Sabers, Stars, and Canucks Center is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Predators. Granted he only had 28 points in 42 games, but if that does translate well to an 82 game season you’re looking at potentially a 60+ point player. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that when he was healthy he would produce 60 point seasons on the regular. The two questions the Predators have to ask themselves is, can he stay healthy on a regular basis? And the second, is he going to be worth a 6 million dollar salary. I think in the case of Roy, he might get offered a deal to come prove himself, much like Alexander Semin got just last summer. The only issue with that is, you’ve got to worry about teams like Montreal, Toronto, or even Philadelphia (if they use their buyout like is expected) coming in and grabbing him up before we have the chance. Let’s move into the stat department shall we?
Derek Roy, 42 games played, 7 goals, 21 assists, plus 4, 15 hits, 30 blocked shots, Overall value: 5-5.5 million.
Make no mistake about it, Derek Roy is going to get slightly overpaid this offseason. One team somewhere is going to give him nearly a million more than he is worth. Roy would be worth a lot more had he produced more these last two seasons, but now he would be a second line center on a lot of teams. Nashville is not one of those teams, Roy would be the clear number one, pushing Fisher down to two. The questions here are, how long does Derek Roy want and how long does David Poile give?
Again, on a personal level I would make him prove himself before I signed him to a long-term deal, but you can’t always do that in free agency. Roy isn’t Semin, he’ll have other offers elsewhere. Another thing to think about is ego. Does Derek Roy want to be the number one center somewhere, or will he take a number 2 center role somewhere? I would think Derek Roy would want a number one center role, but at this point he might just be in it for the money. Only time will tell on this one, but if the Predators could land him it would for sure put a dent in for next years playoff run.
Mason Raymond, 46 games played, 10 goals, 12 assists, plus 2, 18 hits, 8 blocked shots, Overall value: 3.5-4.5 million.
Some of you may be wondering why I am so high on a guy who only scored 22 points total this season. The answer to that is simple, he’s playing 3rd line minutes and he’s still producing at a high level. It has become clear that Mason Raymond is not going to break the top 6 in Vancouver, and he knows he can be a top 6 forward. Here we are on the road with egos again, but I think Mason Raymond will chase the chance to be a top line forward, and the best place he can do that is in Nashville. Granted he will have to compete with Colin Wilson over the top left wing spot, there is always a chance Wilson could move to the other wing or back to his natural position of Center. You also have to factor in that Colin might not be back in time for training camp, and if he isn’t that puts a huge emphasis on the scoring forward. I think the Predators are the ones who overpay here, but I also think they get their man. Poile wants some dynamic forwards, so why not grab a dynamic sniper?
It’s hard to predict free agency, whose going, whose staying, whose doing what. But in this case, Vancouver is fairly easy to figure out. They’re sitting at a 70 million dollar payroll right now, they just got swept in the playoffs, and they’ve got the Sedin brothers as UFA’s next year. Even with the eventual departure of Roberto Luongo, it only frees up 5.3 million in cap space. No way they risk that on Raymond and Roy when they’ve got bigger fish to fry in the Sedins. Look for them to extend the Sedins this summer once Luongo is gone, after that they MIGHT resign their grinder center Maxim Lapierre. Even that isn’t a foregone conclusion. That’s all I got for now…keep tuning into Predlines as we’ll bring you more of these updates, a review of the bottom 6 and top 6 forwards, plus we’ll take a look at some of the draft prospects.