Hours after making five signings, General Manager David Poile and head coach Barry Trotz held a press conference at Bridgestone Arena to discuss the latest moves. Said Poile: “We have never been this active on the first day of free agency, signing five players.”
Poile on his offseason goals: In my game plan, I set the following objectives. First was to re-sign Patric Hornqvist and Roman Josi—and we have them signed to long term deals. Second, was to get a top six forward to replace Martin Erat—and I believe we did that with the additions of Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg, as well as Filip Forsberg. We wanted to add a top 4 defenseman—and we did that by selecting a possible elite young defenseman, Seth Jones, in the amateur draft last week. We needed a backup goaltender—and we believe Carter Hutton is the young man to do that. And more important, we wanted regain our identity of Predators hockey. When I mean that, I mean signing some character players who are tough to play against—and we did that adding Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom.”
Poile on Matt Cullen: “As a player, I know him very well from a lot of years from some of the teams I’ve put together for USA Hockey. He’s played over 1000 NHL games and has won a Stanley Cup. [He is a] great character player, who is really good in the shootouts. In terms of our center ice with Cullen, Fisher, Leggy and Goose, that may be as good as a center ice as we’ve ever had.”
Poile on Viktor Stalberg: “The Chicago Blackhawks possibly have the best forwards in the NHL. He had a hard time cracking the top two lines in Chicago, but in Nashville, he’ll be given the chance to realize his potential. He’s got size, speed and we believe he has unrealized offensive potential.”
Poile on Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom: “We got very experienced players, leadership guys, guys that play hard all the time, know how to win and support their teams. They know what it is all about. They were very necessary components moving forward if we wanted to be successful, especially with some of the younger players we’re putting on our team.”
Poile on Carter Hutton: “We’ve gotten to see him many, many times in the AHL. It was like Milwaukee and Rockford played each other every other game. He just kept on beating us, beating us and beating us. We’ve gone through a lot of work with Mitch Korn and [Hutton] was obviously the guy we wanted to sign.
Trotz on the moves: “I really liked what we did today. We really addressed our needs. We were very specific in terms of the types of players we wanted. We very specific in the guys we wanted and we went out and got them. One thing we want to do is we want to win. Last year was a difficult year for us, it wasn’t our year. There were a number of factors and we just didn’t get it done. And when turnaround few months later and look at our roster, we really addressed our needs.
Trotz on grit: “I wasn’t too happy last year at times, especially when certain people went down. There wasn’t an entertainment tax at Bridgestone Arena and I think we addressed those needs. There is going to be an entertainment tax. If you’re the visiting team, it will be a little harder to come in here and that’s what we want. It’s not only for the fans, our team, but also our organization, culture and also for the development of the young guys,” … “We’ve gotten bigger, faster and we have a little bit of our swagger back.”
Poile on the new interview period: “It allowed us to talk to a lot of different players. We brought in Carter Hutton and Matt Hendricks into town yesterday and I think the value of having a player see your city and meet the organization and interview one-on-one versus a formal conversation helps getting it over the hump, in terms of getting a player to sign here whether it is a fit for him or a fit for you. It’s been a hard process for the number of hours we put in, but it accomplished exactly what we were trying to accomplish.”
When asked why people should be confident the goals are going to come, Poile said: “I think Matt Cullen, right away, is going to help our center ice. With all due respect, I think our scoring came from the hands of Leggy and Fisher for the last couple years in terms of generated offense from the first couple lines. I think Barry has the opportunity now with at least three lines to generate more offense. And I think we’ll get some really good offensive play out of Matt Cullen.
“On Stalberg, that’s a hockey decision. He’s shown flashes of it with Chicago. He has everything you want—size, skating, he has the hands, he can score goals. But we have a tough time getting ahead of Toews, Hossa, Kane and Sharp. With all due respect, our forwards aren’t as dynamic as that. Stalberg is going to be given every chance to do that.”
Trotz on Cullen (and Sergei Kostitsyn): “I think he took 200, or some-odd, shots last season. That’s a lot more than Sergei Kostitsyn and [he] is a good player, but we recognized the value of the center ice position.”
Trotz on if adding so many veterans would slow down path to the NHL for the young guys: “I think you’ve enhanced it. I think you create competition. Some of the young guys are going to push some of the old guys to being on the team. When [the young guys] are ready, we’ll be able to put them on the team.
- Hal Gill’s contract has been bought out and is a UFA.
- Sergei Kostitsyn cleared waivers and has signed with Avangard Omsk in the KHL. His contract has been terminated and is a UFA.
- Want to listen to the players' conference calls? 102.5 The Game has the Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom conference calls posted here.
(Photo by: Preds TV)