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After a disappointing year, the Nashville Predators have already started regrouping and preparing for a successful 2013-14 season. In the end of season interviews, General Manager David Poile addressed the priority entering the summer was to resign restricted free agents Roman Josi and Patric Hornqvist.
Poile wasted no time and resigned Hornqvist quickly. Now, it is time to resign Roman Josi. Poile and the rest of the Predators’ management now have a month and a half to resign the current players in the organization, if they want them back.
Let’s take a look at who is a restricted and unrestricted free agent this summer.
UFAs at the NHL level
RFAs at the NHL Level
Patric Hornqvist SIGNED
Chris Mason is a question mark entering next season. With his age, 37, it may be time to hang up the skates in the NHL. Mason said in an interview after cleaning out his locker for the end of the season—and I’m paraphrasing—that he would love to return. Last season, Mason was a disappointment except in his first and last starts of the season. In both of those games, Mason played spectacular between the pipes.
If Mason does not return with Nashville this upcoming season, it is likely Poile will look to sign another veteran, reliable backup goaltender to Pekka Rinne.
Kevin Henderson will likely be resigned, but for Brandon Yip and Chris Mueller I’m not so sure. Mueller would be of better use than Yip, because of his skill in the faceoff dot, but that may not be enough to keep him as a Predator. Yip seemed to be lost throughout his one and a half seasons with the Preds. It is probably time to move on to better things for Nashville, rather than a fourth line winger with so-so talent.
All of the RFAs for Nashville will likely be handed an offer sheet, thus allowing them to stay a Predator. Jon Blum on the other hand could be dealt. A few teams are looking for an offensive defenseman and one of them could be his landing spot.
Bobby Butler will certainly be re-signed as a RFA after his great display of offensive production for Nashville towards the end of last season. The 26 year old could become a bottom six forward who could trump an opponent’s bottom six, which is effective especially during playoff time.
Disappointingly, Chet Pickard’s career in the Predators’ organization could end in July. The eighteenth overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft didn’t pan out the way goalie coach Mitch Korn hoped. Last season, Pickard went to play in Sweden for Djurgardens in the Elitserien.
Also, Jeremy Smith could be kept by Nashville, but his future is dim with them. Magnus Hellberg surpassed Smith in Milwaukee to lead the Admirals to the postseason. It will be difficult for Smith to move up in the goalie depth chart, which may turn him off from the Preds.
Circle this date on your calendar: July 5 is Free Agent Frenzy day. Offer sheets will be extended in late-June.