**I’m in no way have any inside knowledge at all.
As seen on Fang Faction last week, Jordin Tootoo announced that he was not returning to the Nashville Predators next season. Rather, he will search the league with his agent for another possible suitor. But who?
Tootoo was loved in Nashville by both the fans and the organization. However, this love is definitely not shared in the rest of the NHL. In fact, he was quite despised by other teams and fanbases. He is one of the best agitators in the league and in the last few seasons he has contributed with some clutch points down the stretch (see the 2011 playoff run). Many teams would love to have him as an effective fourth liner who can challenge for a third line position. Many of the same teams would hate to have him because playing against him can sometimes leave a bitter taste in your mouth. So, let’s speculate:
I would assume that whoever shows interest in Tootoo will not be from the Western conference. These teams get so much exposure to him that they will probably not want to bring him into the dressing room to try and make amends with the team. It could be a chemistry killer. On the flipside, Tootoo still has a lot of friends in Nashville and will probably want to limit the number of games where he has to go around grinding it out against his former allies.
The East plays Nashville significantly less and is a probably a more likely suitor for Toots.
Buffalo is probably out.
(although Gaustad and Tootoo made up pretty well)
Of the remaining 14 teams, only a handful will be looking for a player like Tootoo to round out their roster. I would suggest that Florida, Tampa, Washington (especially under Oates), Carolina, Ottawa (already have Neil), Boston, Montreal, New Jersey Pittsburgh, New York, and Philadelphia (good candidate, but that role is already filled), are out. Either because they don’t play the style of hockey that Tootoo brings or because they already have enough people fulfilling those needs.
So with that, I foresee that Tootoo will end up with one of the remaining three teams.
New York Islanders: Tootoo would bring a lot of positive things to the Islanders organization. But the biggest benefit would be off the ice. Tootoo did amazing things in Nashville, for local charities and the fan base, and the NYI need this kind of philanthropic player. He would also be beneficial to their line up. Garth Snow is a bit of a wild card, and this might be one of his wild moves.
Winnipeg: Did you know Tootoo was born in Manitoba? Not really anywhere near The Peg, but in Manitoba none the less. You have to wonder if he grew up with some attachment to the jets (he would have been 13 when they left). I would hazard that Tootoo might want to go back to the home province and play some hockey for the reborn team. It’s not like he would be the worst fit either. Tootoo could be an impact third line player, potentially centered by Slater. Also, Eric Ferh, Tootoo’s teammate in his final year’s with the Brandon Wheat Kings, currently plays for the Jets.
Toronto. Toronto is looking for a bottom six forward on the cheap to round out their roster. Tootoo is probably one of the better candidates for this fit. I think his work ethic and style of play would really work out well in the big T. The intensity of the media would definitely be a big change for him. Toronto is a big mover and shaker during the summer, and if I had friends to bet with, I would put my money on them to acquire Toots.
Where do you think Tootoo will end up? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @canadaspredsfan