Which Players are Definitely Going to Be Protected:
So let’s get the players who Dave Poile would be crazy not to protect out of the way.
- Pekka Rinne – Both options guarantee you the right to protect one goaltender and that’s going to be Pekka no matter what.
- Roman Josi and Shea Weber – GM Dave Poile isn’t letting Josi or Weber get taken for free and there’s no reason to leave them unprotected in favor of Nashville’s lesser defensive players.
- Ryan Johansen, James Neal, Filip Forsberg, Craig Smith – Pretty simple here. The Predators get to keep their best forwards and still have further options to explore with who to protect.
Protected Players Option A:
7 forwards, 3 defensemen, & 1 goalie.
In all the Predators get to protect 11 players if this is the route they decide to take. Keep in mind that both Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro each have one year left on their current contracts and will most likely be free agents or possibly retired by the 2017 entry draft. Either way, those two centermen won’t be getting protected in any event by Dave Poile. That helps the forward situation out tremendously and leaves room for the team to protect some of its younger talents like Viktor Arvidsson or Calle Jarnkrok.
That also brings Kevin Fiala back into the discussion. Depending on the season he has in 2017 Fiala might warrant protection as the Predators 7th forward pick. James Neal and Ryan Johansen have tremendous chemistry and need a left winger to fill out their scoring line, a spot that was initially reserved for Jimmy Vesey, and Fiala could take advantage of the opportunity and assert himself into the Preds top 6.
Now here’s the part where the Predators would be faced with a hard decision. Since they can only protect one more defenseman they would need to choose between keeping Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm. Both players are having excellent seasons with each of them clearing the 30 point mark and setting new career highs for themselves in the process. One full season still remains between now and the entry draft so a breakout season from either player can simplify the decision for Dave Poile.
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