It’s been a full week since free agency opened up and there are still some options left for the Nashville Predators to take a look at to round out their 2022-23 roster.
If the NHL free agency market was the huge DVD bin we use to dig through at Walmart back in the day, then right now the bin is almost empty and we can reach the bottom. But there are still some gems left if you can out-muscle the other shoppers.
As we sit right now past the midway point of July, the Predators are down to just under $8.5 million of projected cap space, per CapFriendly. Enough to still make something happen, but they might have to get creative.
The Predators most recent signing goes to Tommy Novak as the team keeps a vital piece to their depth for next season. He may not start back in the NHL right away with Cody Glass also in line for NHL minutes, but he remains an important piece to the puzzle.
As for outside options the Nashville Predators can still look at, the trade market is where all the appeal lies. A trade could very much still be on the table for the front office.
Can the Nashville Predators pull off one more major addition?
Dubois is currently being strongly linked to the Montreal Canadiens as a trade partner for the Winnipeg Jets, while the writing might be on the wall for Tkachuk’s future as this nightmare offseason continues for the Calgary Flames.
Both Dubois and Tkachuk are intriguing hypothetical additions for the Nashville Predators through a trade, but it just seems highly unlikely they get either of these highly-sought after players.
Here’s a look at the full list of remaining free agents according to CapFriendly, with still plenty options for the Nashville Predators to pursue without having to break the bank.
Out of all of the free agents remaining, my realistic options that make logical sense for the Predators is a very short list:
- Phil Kessel, Age 34, RW (UFA)
- Patrik Laine, Age 24, LW/RW (via trade)
- Jesse Puljujärvi, Age 24, RW (RFA)
- Nino Neiderreiter, Age 29, LW/RW (UFA)
That’s really all I got for you as far as what fits the Predators. I don’t want the Predators adding another aging player in their 30’s, but I’m willing to make an exception for Kessel because he’ll come rather cheap and does have that veteran goal scoring clutch gene.
Trading for Tkachuk is just a pipe dream. I don’t realistically see Poile parting away with young assets and draft capital for Tkachuk, as great as he would be for the Predators. It would signal we’re going all in for next season, Stanley Cup or bust, and I think Poile feels confident enough in what he already has.
Furthermore to bury your dreams of Tkachuk wearing a Predators Gold sweater, it’s already being strongly reported that the Blues are close to securing a deal to acquire Tkachuk, with Jordan Kyrou as the centerpiece of the trade package from St. Louis, per Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writers:
Eric Francis today on 101 ESPN in St. Louis said that he expects a possible Matthew Tkachuk trade to be wrapped up within the week. He said it was clear to him the two are parting ways.
— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) July 19, 2022
The Blues are a Tkachuk caliber piece away from winning another Stanley Cup this season, but even with Tkachuk I’m not sure the Predators would be. Maybe, but not as for sure as the Blues will be.
More realistic options
However, on a smaller scale, Puljujärvi really raises my eyebrows as a possibility. He’s the type of player that might just need a change of scenery, and he’s so young at age 24 that he could easily break out with his next NHL club.
It looks like the Oilers and Puljujärvi are at an impasse with arbitration being filed, and Jeff Chapman who writes for Copper and Blue thinks there’s a distinct chance Puljujärvi goes somewhere else.
Puljujärvi would solve your right wing void you want filled in the top-six, he fits the youth movement plan, and he’d only come at around $3M per year with a reliatively short-term contract. Low risk, high reward scenario.
Kessel is still floating around out there as a cheap unrestricted free agent, and the list is just bare after that.
Somehow Nino Niederreiter is still available, and he’s another perfect fit for the Predators. Problem is, he’ll be expensive and be seeking a long-term deal. Is Poile ready to take another gamble on a player like that?
Poile probably still has Kyle Turris nightmares daily.
If the Nashville Predators don’t make another external addition to the roster this offseason, then it’s not all that bad. They’ve made enough offseason moves to remained in the postseason picture for next season, and there’s always next year’s trade deadline to do something else if they’re competing at a high level.
I’m leaning towards the Predators not making anymore significant moves the rest of the offseason. If that holds true, here’s what I believe the starting line combinations should look like before training camp.
A lineup that can compete and still win a lot of games, but it still leaves me wanting more. Like finishing a 500-piece puzzle and missing one piece in the middle to ruin it all.