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Christmas in July: The Predators and Free Agency


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Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

As giddy as James Nelson gets about the upcoming draft, multiply that feeling by around twenty and you’ll get a sense of what I find about the chance to improve a team through an influx of new talent available in free agency.

If Poile was anxious and excited about the availability of Jones falling from the first position to the Predators at number four, then he should be ecstatic about the treasure trove of talented forwards available in this year’s free agent market.

Nathan Horton – 2012-2013 – 13G, 9A, 22P, +1

Nathan Horton is entering his prime and has stated that he does not plan to return to the Boston Bruins, preparing to test the free agent market. With decent numbers throughout the shortened season, Horton turned on another gear in the playoffs scoring 19 points in 22 playoff games. Although lingering injury issues could be a concern, the X-factor that Horton could bring in scoring and drive could tip the offensive table to the Predators favor for a few years until the young core forwards have a chance to develop.

A modest raise could nab Horton with a $5-5.5M per for two/three years. The experience he could bring while playing a gritty game honed to a sharp edge in Boston would be a perfect compliment to the Predators system.

Michael Ryder – 2012-2013 – 16G, 19A, 35P, +2

Michael Ryder has been on my radar for quite some time. Ryder has one of the silkiest wrist shots I have ever seen and is always buzzing around the net. At 33 years old, some may pass on Ryder or try to give him less money and this is where the Predators can steal him off the open market.

If Nashville could pick up Ryder at his current contract level of $3.5M, it would be amazing. However as always in the free agent frenzy, players usually get a bump in pay with the competition vying for their services. If the Predators can save real money off Kostitsyn’s salary, a solid offer to Ryder for 3 yrs at $4.5 per would be ideal and the Predators would be getting a dynamic scorer to help mentor the younger forwards.

Derek Roy – 2012-2013 – 7G, 21A, 28P, +4

Derek Roy was a top-notch point machine for the Buffalo Sabres. After a disappointing season, though, Roy was shipped off to Dallas and then Vancouver. Roy had a cap hit of $4M and his production was worth every penny, in my opinion, as in a few seasons he was on a point-per-game basis.

The only concern is that Roy is not a prolific goal scorer but rather an amazing set-up man. With natural goals scorers like Wilson, Bourque, and Hornqvist, someone like Roy could be just the forward to get their game to another level.

If they’re looking to sign him, Predators would probably have to offer in the neighborhood of $4-5M for 5-6 years for Roy.

Honorable Mentions: Brad Boyes, Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur

Defense:

Andrew Ference – 2012-2013 – 4G, 9A, 13P, +9

Gritty, tough, and able to play the hard minutes describes Ference’s game with the Boston Bruins. He recorded his second highest point totals the season before and he’s a lefty that could help Jones on the third line or Klein on the second as Ryan Ellis’ development continues.

Ference doesn’t possess the size and frame like Hal Gill, but he did log serious PK minutes and was third on Boston in total TOI. He ranked fourth on the Bruins in hits (89) and blocked shots (60).

He could be had for a reasonable sum, comparable to what he got the last three years, perhaps an offer could be around $2-2.4M for 2 years.

Honorable Mentions:  Ryan Whitney

Goaltenders:

Anton Khudobin – 2012-2013 – GAA 2.32, SV% .920, 9-4-0-1

He’s young, not a behemoth in size, and he wins games in the back-up role…a perfect fit for the Predators sorely needing a backup for Rinne after his surgery over the summer. Khudobin has been in the shadow of tremendous goaltenders like Backstrom (Wild) and Thomas/Rask (Bruins) and once again he could be in that same role behind two-time Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne.

The best case scenario for Anton would be to start 15-20 games of the 82 game schedule next season and give Rinne some much needed rest so the Predators don’t find themselves riding their star goaltender to exhaustion, if they were to sign him. The best part is Khudobin can be signed for a relatively inexpensive price tag. For a team looking to shore up their offense through free agency, every penny counts.

Offering in the neighborhood of $850,000-$1M for a one year contract could garner his attention. This may give Hellberg a little more ice time with the Milwaukee Admirals until he is fully prepared.

Jose Theodore – 2012-2013 – 3.29 GAA, .893 SV%, 4-6-3

Theodore has game-changing ability, but always seems to be shuffled around the league. He would be a perfect back-up for Pekka Rinne where he could excel in his position for the 10-20 games he would be called upon to start.

Theodore typically hovers around the 2.50 GAA, but his playoff performance is where the storm clouds start rolling in. This would just be another stop-gap until Nashville’s minor league goalie prospects come to fruition.

Theodore could garner an offer around $1.25M for a year of service, in my opinion.

Honorable Mention: Ilya Bryzgalov, Evgeni Nabokov

There is my list. Agree? Disagree? Who would you want? We will review after free agency hits to see who went where and for how much. Some of my other wish lists from years past can be found here and here.

Feel free to comment below or ask question to our Twitter accounts @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.