Well, that was some excitement last night, wasn’t it? There are TWO Game 7’s coming up this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier. The NHL would probably love to see the Rangers and Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, but I think I speak for most Predators fans when I say that I’ll be rooting for the Ducks to make it through.
Nothing’s really changed for the Nashville Predators though, the offseason is full of decisions. From drafting, looking at available free agents, and deciding what to do with their own there’s no shortage of work to be done by the Predator’s front office.
Today we’ll take a look at the Predator most likely to end up as a character in Game of Thrones, Calle “Iron Hook” Jarnkrok.
For a breakdown of free agent statuses and the difference between them, check out this hockey-reference.com page.
Last year, Nashville shipped off David Legwand to the Detroit Red Wings for Jarnkrok, Patrick Eaves, and what became a 2nd round draft pick in the trade heard ’round the world (or at least ’round lower Broadway). It was big deal for the Predators. They traded away the “original Predator”. As the team’s first ever draft pick, he had been with the organization practically since their inception. Jarnkrok was a part of that deal because he was seen as a possible replacement for him.
Young and talented, Jarnkrok projected to play a key role with the Predators as they moved forward. He played in 12 NHL games of the 2013-2014 season with the Predators, notching two goals and seven assists
Jarnkrok’s entry-level contract just expired. He made $790,000 last year.
Last season Jarnkrok doubled his point totals from the year prior, potting seven goals to go along with 11 assists. Of course, he had 74 games to do it in as opposed to 12, so that’s really not saying much. His possession stats are great though. His even strength Corsi For was 54% and Fenwick For was 55.3%. That’s pretty good for a guy in his first full season of NHL play.
A part of the reason for Jarnkrok’s drop in production may have been due to his playing partners. For most of the season he was centering the third line with Gabriel Bourque and Matt Cullen. The talent around Jarnkrok probably contributed, at least in part, to his decline in production.
Though he didn’t score a ton, there’s no denying that Jarnkrok was an impactful player. There were a lot of times during the year that I would say (out loud, to nobody in particular) “Wow, Jarnkrok is playing his butt off tonight.” It didn’t always show up in the scoresheet, but he was constantly battling for the puck and setting his teammates up for scoring opportunities.
Future With the Predators
I think Jarnkrok is back next season on a short-term deal. Last season was his first in the NHL, and David Poile knows better than to drop a player just because he didn’t hit his potential right out of the gates (Filip Forsberg anyone?). Now that he has a full season under his belt, it’s time to see what the kid can do when you surround him with some more talent.
Whether or not Jarnkrok is re-signed will come down to a few things: 1. Can the Predators get a better 3rd line center through free agency at around the same price? 2. Was last season the peak of Jarnkrok’s talent? 3. Are there better options in Milwaukee right now?
I think the answer to all of those questions is “no”. While there may be a couple of more talented centers out in the free agent market, almost all of them will command a much higher salary than Jarnkrok, and there’s no way that Jarnkrok has peaked already.
Now it is possible that the Predators somehow acquire a top-tier center through free agency or trade. If that happens and Mike Ribiero is re-signed (spoilers: he probably will be), Jarnkrok might be the odd man out down the middle. I don’t see that happening though, as the trade price for a top center in the NHL is astronomical, and there aren’t going to be any on the free agent market this year.
All of this points to Jarnkrok re-signing for a couple of years at around $1 million per year. Nothing big, but he’ll have a chance to show if he’s capable of moving into a bigger role down the road. And c’mon, his name literally means “Iron Hook”. You just can’t beat that.
Gut Feeling Odds of Re-Signing: 80/20 In Favor