Ryan Suter, Shea Weber

So…what do the Predators do now?


They tried hard to keep Ryan Suter, but the Nashville Predators are watching him walk away to Minnesota instead. With a gaping hole on the blue line to fill next to Shea Weber, the Predators are at a crossroads for their franchise.

Just back in February they went all-in trying to prove to Suter and Weber that they could win and win now. They locked up goalie Pekka Rinne to a seven-year deal to keep at least one franchise player in town.

Now? Trepidation.

They could always go after free agent Matt Carle. The problem they face there is dealing with the same teams that they were up against in keeping Suter. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia will all be hot after Carle and with money to burn to do it.

Should the Predators fall short with Carle, there’s another option that fans won’t like hearing: trade Shea Weber.

Weber would command a huge return on the trade market, and trying to deal him at the deadline, should things get to that point, is dangerous. With Weber not having an extended contract, teams would be nervous to give up a lot for a guy who could just leave on July 1. Summer trades also allow teams the freedom to shuffle pieces around without the time constraints of the deadline.

If GM David Poile gets the feeling Weber isn’t wanting to stick around, moving him out as soon as possible could be in his best interest.

One thing is for sure, the Predators cannot risk losing Weber for nothing they way they did with Suter. Poile refused to trade his rights believing he could re-sign Suter. Now that he’s gone without so much as a replacement, that’s a mistake that cannot be repeated.


So…what do the Devils do now?

So…what do the Red Wings do now?

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’

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Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.