As many fans throughout the message boards and commenters on articles have pointed out, the Predators are in dire need for some scoring talent. Although the big names like Crosby, Ovechkin and Stamkos may be a little far-fetched for the Nashville Predators to acquire, there are those that can not only bring an increase in offensive production, but the toughness, grit and drive that would make them successful Predators in Coach Barry Trotz’ system…
Since the Predators have a glut of center talent both here and in the pipeline, this list will focus more on wingers. That being the case, here’s the list of players that could easily find a home in Nashville and excel in their style of play:
#10 – RW – Kris Versteeg
Having a breakout year with Florida, Versteeg has the tools and the reputation that would fit in Nashville’s system. At $3M+ per season, it would be a bargain if the Predators could trade for this kind of production.
#9 – RW – David Backes
The leader of the St. Louis Blues, Backes was the only one selected from St. Louis in last year’s All-Star game. Backes plays with an edge and for the Predators (namely Hornqvist) they can use a guy willing to stand up for his teammates while having a scorer’s touch. $4.5M per year is very affordable for his offensive and defensive prowess.
#8 – C – Jeff Skinner
Fresh off the Rookie of the Year award last season, Skinner has picked up where he left off. Skinner provides a solid centerman with great puck moving ability and an uncanny knack of getting to the hard areas and firing the puck on net. While still on an entry level contract ($1.4M per), Skinner is a super bargain for Carolina.
#7 – LW – Zach Parise
After suffering through a dismal injury that shelved him for much of last season, Parise has rebounded huge while captaining the resurgent New Jersey Devils. Parise is also a free agent after this season and many teams will be vying to nab him after July 1st. The most expensive option on the list, Parise clocks in at $6M per season.
#6 – RW – Ryan Callahan
Another captain on the list, Callahan is the true blue forward that every team wants. He can put up points and plays with a tenacity that is unrivaled. The Rangers did good in locking him up for three more seasons at $4.25M per.
#5 – LW – Ryan Clowe
The unheralded work-horse of the San Jose Sharks. Clowe is a monster on the boards and in front of the net. He does all the things that Pavelski and Thornton do without all the attention. A solid player that has grit and hands…a dangerous combo at the reasonable price of $3.625M per year.
#4 – LW – Matt Moulson
After a four goal night a few games back, people began to take notice of Matt Moulson. The Islanders noticed in time before he went to free agency last season and signed him to a 3 yr./$3.13M extension. Well deserved, his numbers are good for 11th in the NHL for left-wingers.
#3 – RW – PA Parenteau
Talk about a diamond in the rough, Parenteau gets overshadowed by Moulson, Tavares and Okposo in most talk about the Islanders. He ranks 16th in points for right-wingers in the NHL and has done it ever so quietly. He is an assist machine and compliments any of his linemates at a fraction of the cost…ONLY $1.25m AND A UFA NEXT SEASON!!
#2 – C – T.J. Oshie
What can’t this kid do? He scores at will, has an amazing drive for the net on every shift, has hands softer than Kashmir… so why did the St. Louis Blues want to be rid of him a season ago? Although his numbers don’t put him high on the list of point producing centers, it’s the little intangibles that Oshie brings that make a big difference in the game. Imagine having Tootoo’s lightning rod persona and drive coupled with the hands of Colin Wilson. And all this for roughly $2.35M and a UFA at season’s end.
#1 – LW – Scott Hartnell
Why did the Predators let Hartnell go? Yes the fire sale took it’s toll and the Predators lost some key talent, but none as key as Scott Hartnell. He lives in front of the net and plays with reckless abandon even more so that Tootoo and Hornqvist combined. His point totals since going to Philadelphia have been staggering: 105 G, 115 A, 220P, +39. Needless to say, Hartnell is the prototype of what it takes to play the “Predator Way,” it’s just unfortunate he’s doing just that for another team. At only $4.2M for the next two seasons, Hartnell is attainable and thankfully the Predators have maintained a very healthy trade relationship with the Philadelphia Flyers.
So…if you were to write a letter to the man in red, who would you ask Santa for?