Pressure’s on Poile to add a top center in Nashville


David Poile needs a top center to skate with newly acquired winger James Neal. He knows it. Everyone knows it. It’s just not clear how — or if — he’ll be able to do it.

The Predators’ general manager has already tried to pick Jason Spezza out of Ottawa, only for Spezza to nix the deal.

Tomorrow, Poile will try again when the free-agent frenzy begins. And despite Nashville’s well-known financial constraints, he says he’s got the budget to play the game.

In fact, Poile can’t afford not to. Not after hiring Peter Laviolette to coach a more up-tempo, offensive-oriented system. And not after selling Neal on the new, “fun way to play” Preds.

“Things are changing here,” Neal said today on a conference call. “We’re going to be a more offensive team. I’ve talked to coach Laviolette. Nothing but a bright future ahead.”

At the moment, Mike Fisher, Matt Cullen, Paul Gaustad, and Colin Wilson are the centers the Preds have got — a collection that doesn’t exactly scream offensive juggernaut.

So, who could Poile go out and get?

The biggest-name center that’s expected to test the market is, of course, Colorardo’s Paul Stastny. However, one would think the Preds would really have to knock Stastny’s socks off, financially speaking, to get him. After all, Stastny has no strong desire to leave Denver, and even if he can’t get a deal done with the Avs, there will be plenty of other suitors for his services. Like the Blackhawks. Would the 28-year-old take less to play for a proven contender like Chicago? If you haven’t heard, the ‘Hawks are in need of a second-line center. And unfortunately for Poile, “come to Nashville and win a Stanley Cup” isn’t a sales pitch he can use. Not like the ‘Hawks could, at least.

Besides Stastny, UFA centers include Mikhail Grabovski, Brad Richards, and Mike Ribeiro. Oh, and if Mathieu Perreault doesn’t accept the Ducks’ offer, him too.

Or, to put it another way, a guy the Leafs bought out, a guy the Rangers bought out, a guy the Coyotes bought out, and a guy the Ducks didn’t qualify.

Take your pick.

Related: Poile reaffirms that Weber’s not for sale

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.