James O'Brien

Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber

Preds’ GM: ‘This is our year’


The Nashville Predators don’t get much (any?) hype as a Stanley Cup contender, but should they garner some?

Consider GM David Poile’s comment from fan activities on Saturday:

“There are a lot of good teams in the league this year, the good news is we’re one of those teams … this is our year,” Poile said, according to Brooks Bratten of the team website.

That’s not exactly the sort of scorching hot take that will show up on opposing team’s bulletin boards, though it’s something that we might as well examine on this sleepy Saturday.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s weigh the pros for the Preds.

Prime years

Key Nashville Predators are either entering their prime range or aren’t that far outside of them.

Shea Weber is 30 and Pekka Rinne is 32. Roman Josi is really coming into his own at 25, and Ryan Ellis is quietly carving out his own place at 24. James Neal can still impose his will at 28 and perhaps a breakthrough is coming for Craig Smith (26) and/or Colin Wilson (25).

Contract year motivation

For all of those expecting Filip Forsberg to regress, there’s the alternative: he can earn himself a big raise, even if he’ll become an RFA after next season.

(Assuming, of course, that the Predators don’t sign him to an extension.)

Beyond Forsberg, there’s also Seth Jones, a defenseman who could make a big leap in the last year of his rookie deal.

Alongside those bolder names, wild cards such as Cody Hodgson are aiming to earn their next contracts.

There for the taking?

It’s totally conceivable that, despite this mess of a summer, the Chicago Blackhawks will still be the West’s best. The Los Angeles Kings could bounce back from their own nightmares, too.

Relatively speaking, the West seems a little more approachable, at least at the top. Perhaps.


Look, Nashville has its faults. Most obviously, the Mikes (Ribeiro and Fisher) won’t scare anyone down the middle.

That said, the Predators are formidable in two major areas that people connect to contender status: defense and goaltending. They also have cap space (about $6.24 million, according to General Fanager) that they can throw around to try to add some extra oomph on offense.

It’s unclear if it’s really the Predators’ year, but looking at the situation, it’s reasonable for Poile to claim that it is.

P.S. “bromances” didn’t make the cut.

Red Wings coach gushes about Green’s ‘elite offensive skill’

Mike Green

If Mike Green fits in well, then the Detroit Red Wings found the right-handed defenseman they’ve been seeking for years.

It’s way, way too early to know for sure if that free agent acquisition will do the trick. New Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t shy about praising Green’s offensive skills, as MLive.com notes.

“He’s got elite skill,” Blashill said. “It’s one thing to be an offensive defenseman and have good offensive skill, he’s got elite offensive skill. The right shot has been talked about lots over the years. I think more importantly than the right shot is the skill set he brings. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

Green is primed to pair up with Danny DeKeyser, and that’s about where you need to put on your “take this with a grain of salt” filter for off-season storylines.

After all, Blashill calls DeKeyser elite in that same story, so maybe he throws that word around a bit loosely?

(Either that, or the Red Wings could be headed for a nice jump in 2015-16 …)

Semantics aside, Green seems like he could fit in well if the right things fall into place.

Granted, it’s a shame that the hockey world won’t get to see the best of what Detroit has to offer on the power play right out of the gate, at least if Pavel Datsyuk misses a chunk of the regular season as expected.

Note: Green made his pre-season debut for the Red Wings last night, generating a +1 rating, taking a minor penalty and wearing No. 52.

PHT Morning Skate: Tottenham Hotspur apologizes for putting ‘s’ in Gretzky

Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

What kind of fallout will there be for injuries in the cases of the Boston Bruins with Dennis Seidenberg and the Calgary Flames with T.J. Brodie? (The Hockey News)

Lou Lamoriello discusses Yogi Berra. (Sportsnet)

Free New York Post headline for the New York Islanders’ catering tiff: FOOD FIGHT!

Ouch, Scott Gomez, ouch.


Dom Luszczyszyn put together this interesting chart for the top two centers of each Western Conference team:

With a hat tip to TSN’s Bar Down, we have this exchange between Tottenham Hotspur and Wayne Gretzky. First, the offending jersey:

Then Hotspur’s apology … and Gretzky basically says “no sweat.”

Court rejects bid requesting $150K in spousal support from Duncan Keith

Via Getty Images

Duncan Keith‘s off-ice situation has been a difficult one, but for the moment, it could have been more expensive.

The B.C. Supreme Court rejected an interim bid made by Kelly Keith which would have required Duncan Keith to pay monthly fees including $150K in spousal support and about $69K in child support, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Instead, the temporary decision will require the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman to pay $45K in spousal support and $15K in child support (plus mortgage/expense payments) each month. It’s not necessarily the permanent situation, however.

Duncan Keith had previously been giving Kelly $20K per month (including $10K for mortgage and other expenses).

The current indication is that the couple is considered separated.

Here’s more information from the Vancouver Sun about B.C. Supreme Court Justice George MacIntosh’s decision:

MacIntosh added in his oral ruling that there is “some solace” that his interim decisions are intended for a relatively short period, and are capable of being substantially reworked when all the facts are known at trial or in final settlement.

Duncan Keith shared his thoughts about the situation (and rumors surrounding it) shortly after winning his third Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.

Report: Leafs GM Lamoriello eyes Devils’ Zajac

Travis Zajac

When a GM leaves one team for another franchise, he often brings in “his guys.”

That situation is especially interesting when it comes to Lou Lamoriello and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The powerful former New Jersey Devils GM hasn’t been loading up on his former players – not yet – but this short blurb in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts piece perked up some ears:

7. There’s more than one NHL exec who thinks Lou Lamoriello would love to get his hands on Travis Zajac.


Obviously, Friedman doesn’t even discuss what might be involved in a potential trade, so consider this a mere morsel of a thought. Granted, it’s a rather fascinating little nugget.

One would think that if Lamoriello wants Zajac and the rest of Maple Leafs management would allow it, then the Devils would probably be glad to facilitate a deal.

Selling low

After all, the 30-year-old’s contract sure looks onerous at the moment.

His deal is entering its most expensive years, and even if you only consider cap hit, stomaching $5.75 million per year through 2020-21 is unpleasant at best.

Why wouldn’t Devils GM Ray Shero want to get rid of Zajac’s deal considering the fact that he only produced 25 points in 74 games last season? Even if he’s a useful two-way player, that’s not pretty.

Shero almost certainly doesn’t share Lamoriello’s heightened opinion of Zajac. He didn’t draft him, and Zajac didn’t generate two 60+ point seasons for his version of the Devils.


With all of that in mind, if this report is accurate, it would probably all come down to what the Maple Leafs would want to make it all happen.

And really, how many people not named Lou Lamoriello would want to trade for Zajac, unless perhaps they were getting rid of a shaky deal themselves?

This report isn’t so hard to believe, but Maple Leafs fans probably don’t want to fathom it.