It turns out that General Manager David Poile and the Nashville Predators really were going to do something about their second line after all.
After having us all wonder if they were done, they finally put their remaining cap space to use, signing Nino Niederreiter to a short-term deal to add some punch to the top part of the lineup.
The move now leaves the Nashville Predators with just over $4M in cap space for the upcoming season.
Just looking at the deal at face value, it is a slam dunk for the team. Niederreiter’s aggressive style of play and team-first mentality has made him a favorite everywhere he has gone, and signing a 29-year-old of his caliber for only two years is tremendous value for the organization.
Even if you do not think the Predators are a full-fledged contender after this signing, there is no denying that they are a better team than they were when they got swept by the Colorado Avalanche. But that does not mean the work has to be done just yet.
Before we get into how Niederreiter will change the construction of this lineup, let’s revisit the questionable rough penalty on
from two seasons ago and let it go:
Nashville Predators have decisions to make after Niederreiter signing
Let’s first look at where Niederreiter fits within the Predators’ top six, because there isn’t a clear-cut answer to that question. All offseason long, I personally have been a proponent of the line of Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, and Matt Duchene sticking together and the team building around that, but adding Niederreiter into the fold might change that.
The first and biggest reason why is because Niederreiter and Granlund played together when they were in Minnesota years ago. Forsberg and Duchene have still been very effective with Ryan Johansen centering them, so it is not unrealistic to think reuniting the team’s three highest paid forwards in order to pair up Granlund and Niederreiter would maximize the Predators’ potential.
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Even though the Predators missed on the Matthew Tkachuck sweepstakes, if they really want to go after another play-driving top six forward, they can do so. It will be a lot harder after signing Niederreiter, but they have some assets they can move if they want to get another deal done.
Dante Fabbro‘s name has been thrown out as a potential trade piece, and if the Predators dealt one or both of Colton Sissons and Eeli Tolvanen, they realistically could afford to make a play for another forward.
Things would get difficult next year with players such as Tanner Jeannot and Alexandre Carrier being due for big pay-raises, but there are some ways around that and is nonetheless a risk you take when you have the opportunity to land a player that would be the right addition to round out your lineup.
It might just be worth it for a team like the Predators because although they are better than they were in 2021-2022, they are still not one that can easily contend for a Stanley Cup. Their top six is missing that one extra lethal weapon, and there are still players out there who have the ability to be that for the team.
Bringing in Niederreiter is certainly a step in the right direction for the Predators but it is not quite enough if their goals are to go all the way in the playoffs.
Poile’s offseason strategy has certainly produced all of the results we have wanted to see except for the biggest and most important one, and we’ll have to wait and see if he’s not done yet.