With the season paused, we’re going to take a look at who on the Nashville Predators will become unrestricted free agents this offseason.
While we don’t know how or when this season will end, one thing that is for sure is that some players may or may not be part of this Nashville Predators next season.
Six players on the Nashville Predators will be UFAs at season’s end. Some tough decision will have to be made by GM David Poile and the coaching staff.
These decisions can make-or-break your window for competing for a Stanley Cup, or you could fall back into a dreaded rebuild mode. The Predators have avoided that ill fate for several years now, but they need to be smart with these offseason UFAs.
I’m going out on a limb and saying that defenseman Dan Hamhuis will not be a part of this team next season . My real feeling is that he’ll retire and hang the skates up on what’s been a very respected career.
At 37-years-old, Hamhuis has had a long career. Given his current age, coupled with declining statistics, the sun is setting on his 16-year NHL career.
If Hamhuis retires or decides to test the free agency waters with another team, the Predators will gain $1.25M in cap space.
Yannick Weber is another player that probably won’t be on the roster next season. The defenseman’s departure will not be a matter of retirement, but a lack of production and turning to youth or free agency.
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The 12-year veteran spent time with both the Predators and the AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals this season. In 41 games with the Predators, he scored one goal and two assists.
There are higher caliber players on the Milwaukee Admirals roster that could net the Predators more production. Weber’s salary cap hit of $675,000 could also be combined with other cap savings to obtain a higher caliber player.
Weber just didn’t do enough in his 41 games of time to make any sort of an argument to continue to retain a roster spot for him.
The only transaction that took place at the trade deadline was the acquisition of defenseman Korbinian Holzer. He arrived from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Matt Irwin and a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Holzer only played in three games for the Predators before the season paused.
A defensive-minded player, Holzer has never been a big scorer. During his five seasons in Anaheim, he managed just 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists).
Holzer brings a defensive toughness and grit to the Predators that they lack. Depending on what happens with the rest of the season, Holzer may stick around for next year.
Holzer’s salary cap hit is $850,000. A good option would be to retain him and pair him with a defenseman from the Milwaukee Admirals, possibly Alexandre Carrier.
Colin Blackwell signed with the Nashville Predators as a free agent in 2018. He has spent time with the Milwaukee Admirals and the Predators.
Blackwell played in 27 games this season with the Predators. In that short time, he racked up three goals and seven assists. He also brought energy in forechecking and played well enough to stick around through the tough times.
Blackwell has potential and showed flashes of it this season. Some regular playing time on the fourth line, maybe in Austin Watson’s place, would do him some good.
Blackwell should be retained and get a small raise. His salary cap hit $675K.
Before the deadline on February 24th, there was talk that Craig Smith was on the trade block. Fortunately for the Predators and many fans who love him, Poile decided to keep Smith. It turned out to be a great decision.
Smith is tied with Nick Bonino for second in goals for the Predators this season, only trailing Filip Forsberg. Smith even managed to pull off a hat trick against the Islanders in February and kicked it into another gear as the Predators began to hit their surge upward. .
Smith is a tough skater and, despite a slow start to the season, remains a consistent player. He’s on track to surpass his statistics from the previous season if the season doesn’t indeed go the full 82 games.
Being a lifetime Predator who has consistently produced for the team, it would be tough to see him suit up for another team.
The Predators should try to keep Smith. His salary cap hit is $4.25M. While I don’t think he will command top dollar, I do believe he deserves a raise.
Mikael Granlund didn’t flourish under Peter Laviolette. That all changed when John Hynes took over in early January.
The most memorable moment of Granlund’s season by far was his last-second goal to tie the game against the Calgary Flames on February 27th. He then went on to score the game-winning goal in overtime.
No one knows if Granlund is ready to move on or if he loves playing in Nashville. I believe it would be in the team’s best interest to try to re-sign him no matter what.
If the yearly salary cap ceiling rises next season, perhaps that money could aid in his re-signing. Granlund’s salary cap hit is $5.75M. He’s going to want a very competitive and high-end new deal.
There’s still quite a ways to go before the matter of unrestricted free agents is resolved. The concentration now is just getting the season resumed in some form or fashion. It will be interesting to see what will happen with all of these player’s contracts.
All contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.com