Final Verdict, Should They Stay or Should They Go?


Should they stay or should they go?

That’s a question that has been discussed among members of the media, David Poile, and even Barry Trotz. All have been very vague, yet have made it very clear major changes are coming. That can’t be good news for anybody, at least not anybody on the Predator’s roster. Of course there are two, maybe three guys who are untouchable. Obviously Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne top that list, and now to you can add Patric Hornqvist. It’s even possible they wouldn’t consider getting rid of Filip Forsberg either. But everybody else, well they have a value to the team, and are expendable. But for the sake of consistency we’re not going to go down the whole roster and tap into who is staying or going, but we are looking at everyone that’s listed as a free agent, either Restricted or Unrestricted. Here we go.

Chris Mason

We went over his numbers in the goaltender’s post season review blog, but now comes the question the Predators must ask themselves. Do we keep him, or do we let him go again? Chris has been a journeyman as of late, and truthfully has never been “that” guy that teams rely on night in and night out. Has he been solid at times? Yes. Has he been spectacular at times? Yes. Is he a guy you would consider a Top 10 goalie in the league at any point in his career? No. He was just very solid at best. Now on the back-end of his career I’m sure Chris would like nothing more than to retire out as a Nashville Predator, maybe even come back and have a front office role or another role within the community (much like Stu Grimson). But is he really worth it now? I mean he had a horrible season, which could be contributed to the fact he rarely played…but still, 1.5 million is a lot of money to spend on a goalie who went 1-7. Not to mention Magnus Hellburg has looked pretty good last year in Milwaukee. Is he good enough to be in the NHL just yet? In my opinion no.

Final Verdict: Chris Mason stays, but only if he takes a paycut.

Brandon Yip

Yipper is another one of those guys you expected so much more out of heading into this season, only to be greatly disappointed by a sub par at best season. The fire and drive he had in his first year with the team? Gone, completely. It almost seemed as if once we quit winning he gave up a bit, which could be speculation but he did have more points toward the front end of the year than the back-end. He also wasn’t hitting the same, didn’t drop the gloves as much, and found himself in what I like to call the “Halischuk, Spaling, Yip” grouping. Yip was separated last year because he was flying around and hitting people with anger. He was fighting for his job…and now, he appears to have quit fighting. Do I think he will bounce back somewhere else? I do…too many teams need a player like Brandon Yip either in their minor league affiliate or on their actual roster as a 4th line forward. Just be positive on one thing, Brandon Yip will NEVER get another chance to crack the Top 6 for the Predators again.

Final Verdict: Brandon Yip is out, possible two-way deal elsewhere.

Nick Spaling

Spaling seems to be one of the fan favorites in this area, much more so than his good friend Matt Halischuk. A lot of people look at Spaling and they see a kid who works hard and has moments of brilliance, followed by moments of disappointment, which creates a bipolar flowing of fan emotions, the fact he works harder and harder each season keep the fans coming back to bat for him. Has he done anything impressive since being a Predator? Well, no not really…which is why he is on this list and not already resigned. I believe the staff has faith in him to come around, and I don’t think they’re so willing to dump one of Trotz’s favorite forwards with Legwand’s contract coming to an end next year. Spaling stays, but if he gets any worse next year he can quickly find himself on the waiver wire.

Final Verdict: Spaling stays, but is on really thin ice.

Matt Halischuk

Ah yes, you can’t mention Batman without Robin…in this case it would be more like you can’t mention Batman without Alfred. Halischuk has went through more ups and downs than a lot of other players I can remember. Unfortunately for him, this season it might have come to a boiling point. Halischuk was so bad this season he had to be sent to Milwaukee on a conditioning assignment.

A lot of people contribute in and say Halischuk had such a crappy string of luck due to the fact he lost his long time linemate Jordin Tootoo over the summer. Halischuk, Spaling, and Tootoo made a very interesting lineup when they were actually in the game that way (Trotz shuffles the lines so much it’s hard to keep up sometimes). But now Halischuk is on the chopping block, he’s the result of a trade that sent long time Predator Jason Arnott to New Jersey, and so far hasn’t lived up to the hype (not that there was a lot of hype to be had for him). Unfortunately for Hustlechuk, his ride in Broadway needs to end.

Final Verdict: Halischuk goes, probably in a trade to send his rights to a team that wants him around.

Bobby Butler

The midseason waiver wire pickup has seemed to find it rather cozy in Nashville after a slow start. He’s had some great shots in some of the later games that made you wonder why he didn’t do that all the time. Really, that’s the only issue with his game is the fact he doesn’t do it all the time. You can catch a glimpse here and there of his potential when you watch the Team USA take the ice daily in IIHF play. He’s been able to ring home a couple of goals, and he’s looked pretty fluid skating out on the ice. Finding a spot to get open, and shooting at will. Now the question the Predators must ask themselves is can he do this on a consistent basis in the NHL? Debatable, but with the lack of scoring production the Predators have found themselves in I think they would be willing to take one more flyer on Bobby Butler, worst case scenario he goes back on the waiver wire or potentially to Milwaukee.

Final Verdict: Bobby Butler stay put, on a two-way contract with a full understanding he might hit the waiver wire if he doesn’t impress.

Jonathon Blum

I feel bad for Blum, I really do. It seems like he has a great 20 or so games only for it to fall apart shortly after that. He looked really good in his debut for the Predators back in 2011, alas that didn’t last very long for him. Cody Franson was traded, as part of a deal for the Maple Leafs to take on the salary of Matthew Lombardi and then Blum regressed. He spent the better parts of two years ago and this year in the AHL, where they were trying to get his own zone awareness up. And for a while this NHL season it looked like he had finally gotten it, it was all clicking for the young man from Long Beach, California. That didn’t last long either, he had hit a snag with his game similar to the one early in 2012 and often became the butt of jokes about bad defensive play. I seem to remember someone else going through that, Kevin Klein seemed like he got blamed for everything. He had a couple kicked pucks in the net and at first didn’t play very good, eventually he turned it around and I am sure Blum will too. The question is, will he do it with the Predators or with another team?

Final Verdict: As much as I would love to see Jonathon Blum back in a Predators uniform, it doesn’t look very likely. Victor Bartley has emerged as a defenseman, Ryan Ellis is breathing down his neck, and to top it all off Mathias Ekholm is finally showing the promise everybody saw in him coming out of Sweden. They can’t all play in Nashville, and with Josi, Weber, Gill, and Klein locked in for next season it appears as if two will play in Nashville, and the others will either settle in Milwaukee or be traded.

Victor Bartley

Talk about a feel good story, that’s Victor Bartley in the fullest. A young man who has overcome so much to take on his NHL career, despite playing years in Canada’s WHL he went undrafted. He played for the ECHL, the AHL, and even went to Sweden to find his game. Luckily for us he found it, and he played well this year. Victor was an AHL All-Star, and played his game with Preds stalwart Kevin Klein.

But again with Bartley, there is so much competition among the ranks nothing is fully guaranteed this year. You’ve got four guys competing for two spots, and that’s if the Predators don’t find themselves bringing in another veteran defenseman to shore up that back-end. So who will come out on top? Well Victor Bartley’s performance this year gives him the edge, but as we mentioned previously that didn’t help Jonathon Blum OR Ryan Ellis out too much. All of the Predators blueliners except Ekholm have played in a respectable number of NHL games, and all have shown flashes of potential, and all have shown lapses that could be improved.

Final Verdict: Victor Bartley stays, but he also stays on a two-way deal for at least another season.

Mueller, Bang, and Henderson

These guys aren’t getting much of a write-up from me, they played solid but they’re all going to be Admirals next season.

Final Verdict: Resigned, but all will be in Milwaukee next year.

And now for the added bonus…

Sergei Kostitsyn

Was there really any bigger disappointment this year than Sergei? I mean, we’re paying the guy 3 million dollars a year and he produces all of 15 points. Anybody care to do the math on what we’re paying the guy per point? 200K per point for Sergei. And unlike Paul Gaustad Sergei doesn’t exactly do anything very well…he missed his backchecking assignment this year and went for a line change giving up a break away, he rarely shoots the puck, and when he does shoot the puck it tends to go wide. This is not the same Sergei that is worth 3 million dollars, in fact there is no Kostitsyn worth that kind of money. I wish things were different, but they’re not and it’s time for both parties to move on.

Final Verdict: Sergei gets a trade, Predators get a draft pick.

Final thoughts

This isn’t exactly the shaking up I had in mind for the Predators, but they’re still cutting ties with dead weight. A lot of these guys will find themselves in a position where they get a new start with a new team, one who needs them badly. In terms of Sergei, I wouldn’t be shocked if he was sent somewhere like a Minnesota or a Buffalo where depth on the Wings appears to be a problem. Will he ever rebound from his time in Nashville? Well he certainly rebounded well from his time in Montreal, let’s just hope that he can move on with his career and stay far away from the Predators’ bench.

That’s all for now