After an arbitrator’s ruling, Rocco Grimaldi and the Nashville Predators have reached a new deal to keep him in Nashville for another year.
It took longer to be resolved than the Nashville Predators would’ve liked, but Grimaldi finally has a new deal worth $1 million for the next year. It took an arbitrator’s ruling to reach the agreement.
This was another offseason priority for the Predators to reach an agreement with one of their best performers during their short playoff run last season.
Grimaldi’s stock rose quickly last season after breaking into the lineup and making regular impacts with his speed and energy.
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He ignited the bottom six of the roster and quickly raised eyebrows in the playoffs, despite the Predators being eliminated by the Stars in six games. He put up three goals and was one of the few bright spots.
What I mainly take away from this deal is Grimaldi is getting one more year to prove that his playoff performance is just a sign of things to come, and not an aberration.
Now he gets a nice little raise from his $650K salary last season, his first with the Predators. Time for him to prove he’s worth a long-term contract, if not with the Predators, then from someone else.
What made this deal complicated
Coming up with a new deal for Grimaldi is a tricky proposition because he’s never been a regular on the NHL level. His 53 games played this past season more than doubled his previous career-high of 20 games in 2015-16 with Florida. You can’t help but be cautious about investing too much into him in case last season was more of a fluke.
However, there’s no ignoring the fact that Grimaldi ignited this team and brings an intensity that that was sorely lacked as a whole. You need high-energy players like this guy to fill out your depth and create energy outside of your top line.
You can’t blame the Predators for not wanting to invest too much in a player with such a small sample size for his NHL career. Grimaldi’s AHL career offers more to go off of, including a 31-goal season in 2016-17.
I don’t think we can expect that kind of goal production on the NHL level from Grimaldi anytime soon, but can he become a consistent scorer on the fourth line for the Predators? I think he can definitely do that, and he’ll earn an even bigger contract if he becomes more consistent this coming year.
Grimaldi has to show the Predators that he can be relied upon as a regular on the roster. You can’t make that proclamation based off one strong showing in a playoff series. We need more proof that he’s ready to become a regular on the NHL level.
Grimaldi comes out a winner from the arbitration hearing by getting the $1 million salary that was higher than what the Predators would’v preferred to pay. I do believe that he’s worth every penny of that salary and will prove his worth in the coming season. As long as he can stay healthy, he should shatter a lot of career-highs, including his 13 points in 53 games in his first season with Nashvile.
His role on the Predators
Now that we know Grimaldi is coming back for another year, let’s see how he’s going to fit on the everyday roster. He should find himself initially on the fourth line with Austin Watson on the other wing. Who plays center with them will be sorted out in the preseason and throughout the early portion of the regular season.
I’d really like to see Kyle Turris as the fourth line center playing alongside an electrifying player like Grimaldi. It could awaken Turris from his year-long slumber that has left him very unproductive. However, if he’s playing with Grimaldi and Watson, I could see the fourth line really becoming a strength on the team.
It’s going to be very interesting to see if Grimaldi can continue to climb the depth chart. His physical frame at 5’6″ is really the only thing holding him back. He does a lot of things very well outside of just creating offense with his speed.
He’ll grind away on the boards for loose pucks and doesn’t seem to ever take a play off. He’s the perfect fit for the Predators’ fourth line, and I’m pleased to see him come out as a winner from this arbitration hearing. Now let’s see if the Predators find value in giving him regular starts and not as many healthy scratches.