Free Agency Preview: Playoff Teams With Potential UFAs


Earlier we talked about who we could possibly sway from the Vancouver Canucks, but I am not so sure if there are any other teams who have multiple free agents that we need. So tonight instead of giving you the break down for one team, I am going to pick three players from three teams that could get a look from the Nashville Predators this offseason. First team on deck, the Canadiens of Montreal.

Michael Ryder, RW, 46 games played, 16 goals, 19 assists, plus 2, 35 hits, 16 blocked shots, Overall value: 3.5-4.2 million.

Michael Ryder could be one of the more valuable players the Predators could go after in the offseason. At the age of 33 it appears as though Ryder is more on the back end of his career, much like Hal Gill is. They share that connection, but there could be more that lures Ryder to the Music City, he could be a Top 6 forward still. Montreal appears to be clearing some cap space currently so they can resign P.K Subban long term, which was part of the reason Ryder was traded for Erik Cole midseason. All things considered Michael Ryder has had a very solid year, and I think he could be part of a line combo with either Legwand or Fisher.

So how realistic is this signing? Maybe more so than you would think (even though his resigning is very likely too). Despite the fact the Predators have a proven right winger in Patric Hornqvist, that’s about the only one they have. Halischuk is a RFA, Butler is a RFA, Yip is a UFA, and outside of that there is only Bang who is NHL ready from Milwaukee (and even that is a huge question mark). I don’t see them keeping Bang or Halischuk, and if they do keep Butler (which he did turn it on at the end of the year) it will only be a one year deal. I’d love to see Ryder come in and give us that veteran presence on the wing, and if he comes in that would allow us to put Forsberg and our draft pick together on a third line. Moving on…

Jaromir Jagr, RW, 45 games played, 16 goals, 19 assists, minus 2, 13 hits, 10 blocked shots, Overall value: 3.5-4.2 million.

Boston probably hates the fact they can’t resign Jagr. Nathan Horton is a free agent, and I don’t see them letting him walk and to make it worse Vezina candidate Tuukka Rask is a RFA who is schedule to get a raise from his 3.5 million dollar salary. Those two alone will make them sit right at the 64 million mark I’m sure, and I doubt Jagr would take less than a million to stay put. He has the same qualities as Ryder, except Jagr is older. Last year Jaromir took 4.5 million to come to a Dallas team with a similar build to this Predators team. A younger team with a star goalie (Kari Lehtonen) and a star player (Jamie Benn) who could contend with the right mix of veterans. Obviously Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber fill those roles for us.

The big question then becomes, does Jagr feel like Nashville is a contending team? He may only want to go to a contender. I personally feel with the right additions, and the better subtractions this Predators team could be very solid. They have Colin Wilson coming back, as well a Hornqvist, Pekka should play better post surgery, and Josi will only continue to grow with Weber. Adding an explosive veteran like Jagr on the right side could give us that same depth behind Hornqvist, the upgrade over Ryder is the fact that Jaromir has more experience. Depending on what exactly the Predators want, will depend on which one they decide to go after, if they want a one year guy who could be a stop gap until they get a prospect ready, than Jagr is their man. If they want a multiple year guy to take a longer period for the prospect to get ready, than Ryder will be their guy…next up, that toughness I was talking about.

Raffi Torres,LW/RW, 39 games played, 7 goals, 11 assists, 87 hits, 15 blocked shots, Overall value: 1.5-2.3 million.

Some of you must be losing your mind that I would suggest Raffi Torres is worth 2.3 million dollars. But his last contract was 1.7, so it’s not really out of the realm of probability to give him an extra 600k. Especially if he’s the guy who can bring us back to our hard hitting ways. Raffi gets a bad reputation because he hits people, but since he had been suspended for nailing Marian Hossa he has really cleaned up his game. His body checks are a thing of beauty, AND as an added bonus he can actually play on the penalty kill. Imagine a fourth line of Clune, Gaustad, and Torres…that is a line that

would make sure Shea Weber never has to drop the gloves, but they would also make sure that other teams knew why it was called SMASHVILLE.

On top of all that, Torres would be a breath of fresh air for the Predators who really are missing the attitude that made them famous for so many years. We can talk about the fact that we need a scoring threat, because we really do, but we all need some guys who will set the tone physically. That was the major difference in the Predators this season, was the fact they were bullied way too much. They got outworked, they got outshot, and they got outhit. This will remedy one of those problems, and could set the tone for the next couple of years along with Gaustad and Clune. If that isn’t a fourth line that brings a smile to your face I don’t know of one that will.

Final thoughts:

I said it best last time, it’s hard to predict hockey free agency. But speculation is really the best thing we can do right now, because it will give you some insight as to who is available and what needs we really need to fill. It’s highly possible Ryder gets resigned, when Montreal made the deal both Getzlaf and Perry were slated to be free agents. Jagr’s situation I explained earlier, and while San Jose does have the cap space to bring Raffi back, they’ve also got pending UFA’s in Joe Thorton and Patric Marleau to worry about next season. Something tells me they might try to save some of that money to resign those guys when time comes around, I give it a 50/50 chance either way. I will say this, the Predators could very easily target two wingers in free agency and nobody would blink an eye, will either of them get long term deals? Doubtful, maybe a 3 year deal maximum (unless they’re only 27 or 28) but they do have a chance to change the scenery in Nashville, both Poile and Trotz said big things are coming, which I can only assume means we’ll be seeing someone, somewhere, coming in.

That’s all I got for now.