Free Agency is an interesting time. We don’t expect the Nashville Predators to make the big signings. We just hope they won’t embarrass us.
Some likely 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff teams have made improvements to their teams early in the off-season. The Vegas Golden Knights signed Paul Stastny away from the Winnipeg Jets. The Calgary Flames got themselves a real deal in James Neal. The Toronto Maple Leafs got the most headlines with their signing of John Tavares, who was considered to be the top star in this year’s free agency class. The Nashville Predators? Well, more on that in a bit.
Others have not made many additions. The Washington Capitals have been pretty quiet. The Tampa Bay Lightning have been silent as well. Among the less active teams are the Predators, whose focus is on keeping their current players around for longer periods of time & fewer dollars. It’s not as exciting as off-seasons where Shea Weber gets traded for P.K. Subban, but things like getting Ryan Ellis signed long-term are important too.
We have seen a few roster additions. Most of them haven’t exactly set the world on fire. Connor Brickley, Rocco Grimaldi & Jarred Tinordi each scream “depth guy” at best. There was one name that got signed to a two-way contract that drew attention. It got the most Facebook & Twitter comments out of any of the signings, and most of them weren’t exactly positive.
Zac Rinaldo broke into the NHL as a member of Peter Laviolette‘s Philadelphia Flyers, and one can assume his former coach put a word in for him with David Poile & the front office. We’re used to blindly trusting whatever Poile throws at us because it usually works. This one’s caused some head-scratching.
Offensive Production? Nope.
His statistics bring up some issues. To be specific, the fact that he’s a winger that doesn’t score goals or collect assists. He played fifty-nine games with the Arizona Coyotes last season, in which he got a grand total of five goals & two assists. In case you think he was having a down year, that’s not exactly the case either. His top-scoring year since leaving junior hockey was 2011-12, when he got two goals & seven assists for a grand total of nine points in his first full season with the Flyers.
His main impact on the 2017-18 season came during a game with the Colorado Avalanche. He got suspended for six games after punching a man near & dear to many Nashville Predators fans’ hearts: Samuel Girard.
Maybe Laviolette & Poile hated Girard so much that they signed the guy that punched him? It’s the best explanation I have!
Rinaldo vs. McLeod
The obvious comparison for us to make here is to former Nashville Predators left wing Cody McLeod. I had a soft spot for McLeod due to arguments I had with people. He was such a punching bag for Internet fans & writers that I wrote an article defending his role on the team. Many of those same arguments could be used to defend Rinaldo, though I really don’t know if he was beloved in his locker rooms or not.
Rinaldo is six years younger than McLeod. That’s the main advantage he has in the comparison. Other than that it doesn’t look good. McLeod’s high for penalty minutes in a season was 191 in 2014-15 for the Colorado Avalanche. Rinaldo got 232 in that previously-mentioned 2011-12 season with the Flyers. He got an ungodly 331 in 2010-11 with the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL. That was the year where Laviolette decided he deserved a slot on the playoff roster even though he hadn’t played a game with the Flyers all season.
Rinaldo’s been known for getting suspended throughout his career. He even managed to get suspended by the AHL while being suspended by the NHL. That’s a level of stupidity that isn’t often reached.
My hockey writing superiors encourage me to use the advanced statistics when writing these articles. The best website to use for Zac Rinaldo is hockeyfights.com. That site doesn’t exactly help his cause either. He was 1-3-1 in his 2017-18 fights. The only one he won was when he cheap-shotted Girard. Do we really need an enforcer that can’t get a winning record in his fights? I don’t know about you, but I prefer an enforcer that can kick ass more often than not.
My original idea was to defend the signing of Zac Rinaldo. After looking further into his career & the decision, I can’t do it. I would love to just to gain the attention of the social media fans, but there’s not a leg to stand on. Our only hope is that he stays in Milwaukee for the duration of the season, and those fans can shut up & deal with it because the Brewers might end up winning the NL Central.
All I’m saying is that Cody McLeod is still on the market.