Predators fans will all remember that fateful free agency day one year ago where Music City lost half of its top defense pair in the form of free agent Ryan Suter. One year later, the Nashville Predators haven’t signed away their life support and are all about the signing business!
Seriously, today has been a signing palooza.
News first broke at lunch today when general manager David Poile announced that the Predators signed former Chicago Blackhawks winger Viktor Stalberg to a four year $12 million contract. Stalberg comes to Nashville off of a mediocre playoff performance the yielded only three assists but netted putting his name on the Stanley Cup for 2013. Stalberg posted twenty-three points during the shorted regular season.
Shortly after lunch, news broke as Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cullen signed on for a shorter contract, only two years, but for a very nice price of $7 million. Cullen has formerly played with Predators veteran David Legwand during the world championships.
Who did Poile sign next? Well that would be Dallas Stars forward Eric Nystrom. Nystrom will make $10 million over the next four years of his contract. With eleven points and well over one hundred hits this past season, Nystrom should fit right in with the physical play of the Predators.
Poile’s next signing went to a player originally drafted by the Predators in 2000. Matt Hendricks has played for both the Colorado Avalanche and the Washington Capitals, now with plans to be in Nashville for four years at $7.4 million. Hendricks is a face off and penalty man, ranking in the leaders for the Capitals this past season.
The last signing as of this posting went to Carter Hutton’s one year two way contract. Goalie Hutton played one game for the Blackhawks last season after an injury to the team’s backup goalie.
The Predators’ only loss today has been goalie Jeremy Smith, a 2007 draft pick sent to the AHL. Smith has signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
My final take? Stalberg will be overpaid unless he cleans up his play and becomes a producer. He’s got the speed and the physical presence; he just needs to use it. Nystrom and Hendricks are my two free agency picks to watch for this year. Both players have produced offense and are willing to make the hits that come with playing hockey.
All in all, this is the kind signing day Nashville Predators fans expect when Poile says he’s gonna shake up the team; sign the fire power and keep the defense strong. I look forward to next season!