Forget Tavares, the Nashville Predators Should Pursue These Free Agents

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The free agent signing period draws closer as the month of June arrives. What players should the Nashville Predators consider?

While Preds Nation is itching for a big name signing, it may be easy to forget that this will largely be the same Nashville Predators team in 2018-19 that won the Central Division and the President’s Trophy in 2017-18. This is a good team, a young team, and one that doesn’t need a huge shake up to get back to the Stanley Cup final.

So while visions of John Tavares in Nashville Predators gold dance in your head, remember these more reasonable and realistic names when free agency opens July 1:

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Unrestricted Free Agents:

  •  James Van Riemsdyk – LW – Age 29
    • On the higher end of the cap hit, we have the 29-year-old Van Riemsdyk. JVR is 6’3″ and 210 lbs of offensive skill that could pair nicely with Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala on the 2nd line. Craig Smith would move down to the 3rd line, centered by Nick Bonino with Ryan Hartman on the other side. The offense becomes more dangerous as a result. Eeli Tolvanen would be put in a much less pressure-filled role as a rotation guy or 4th line wing, also. His skill would also be welcomed on the Power Play.
    • The best part is that JVR will likely come at a cap hit somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range.
  • Riley Nash – C, RW – Age 29
    • Nash had a +/- of +16 in the 2017-18 season playing for the Boston Bruins. In addition, he was on the ice for 50 even-strength goals for compared to 35 even-strength goals allowed. Riley Nash finished the regular season with 4.4 Point Shares, which tied him with the likes of TJ Oshie and Henrik Zetterberg.
    • It is worth noting that he is coming off of a career year, so I wouldn’t want to overspend, but it seems reasonable to expect him to come with a cap hit under $2 million. His presence on the 3rd or 4th line would certainly be an asset, playing a role somewhat similar to the one Ryan Hartman played after coming over at the trade deadline.
  • Thomas Vanek – LW, RW, Age 34
    • Thomas Vanek is not the player he was in his younger days. He has been effective, however, with 68, 52, 41, 48, and last year 56 points over the last 5 seasons. Vanek did all this on 8 different teams over that time, as well. He is adaptable, offensively gifted, and had a cap hit of just $2 million last season.  Definitely a player to consider.
  • James Neal – LW, RW – Age 30
    • Alright, this is mostly wishful thinking. Preds fans, including yours truly were pretty bummed to lose Neal in the expansion draft. The fit is clear and would be seamless. The only issue would be his cap hit is around $5 million this season, which might be a little high for the 31-year-old winger. I can’t say I’d be disappointed to see him back in Smashville, though.

Restricted Free Agents

We all know these types of signings are rare. A bidding war over Tavares is likely not worth Nashville’s time, though. These young restricted free agents might be worth a shot.

I can’t actually see any scenario in which the Preds go the RFA route. Domi, in particular, has me intrigued, however. He has shown skill along with the grit that would fit well on the PK and bottom 6. Furthermore, his game has time and room to grow.

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Tavares is head and shoulders above the other names in this free agent class. The Preds can benefit from not getting involved in the Tavares sweepstakes, however. These names would all be good fits in Nashville. They would also cost significantly less than the Canadian centerman.