Tag: Anton Volchenkov

Arizona Coyotes v Nashville Predators

Volchenkov unlikely to return to Nashville


Preds defenseman Cody Franson is already prepping for free agency and it appears Anton Volchenkov will be joining him.

Nashville GM David Poile told reporters on Saturday that “Our defense is coming back except Volchenkov. We may fill that in-house.”

Poile also touched on Franson:

The 2014-15 season was Volchenkov’s first in Nashville after four seasons in New Jersey. The 33-year-old had seven assists and a plus-4 rating in 46 regular season games with the Predators.

Earlier this week Volchenkov’s agent, Jay Grossman, told PHT that he’s had discussions with the Predators about re-signing the pending UFA for a second season.

Reached on Saturday for a follow up to Poile’s comments, Grossman said, “there is nothing really further to add”.

Volchenkov joined the Preds on a one-year, $1 million contract after being bought out by the Devils last summer.

Preds, Volchenkov have discussed new deal

Arizona Coyotes v Nashville Predators
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Sounds as though the door may be open for Anton Volchenkov’s return to Nashville.

Volchenkov’s agent, Jay Grossman, told PHT on Monday he’s had discussions with the Predators about re-signing the pending UFA for a second season in the Music City, but added there’s “nothing further to report.”

Volchenkov, 33, signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Preds last summer after the Devils amnestied the remainder of a six-year, $25.5M pact signed in 2010. The veteran Russian was brought to Nashville as a depth defenseman and filled that role throughout the regular season, appearing in 46 games while registering seven points and averaging 13:11 TOI per.

Volchenkov then appeared in just one postseason game — a series-opening loss to Chicago, in which he played 13:51 in a double-OT affair.

It’ll be interesting to see if Preds GM David Poile opts to return Volchenkov in a similar capacity next season. The team has six defensemen under contract for next season — Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Seth Jones and Victor Bartley — and trade deadline pickup Cody Frason won’t be brought back.

Of course, the Preds could opt to promote one of their young d-men from AHL Milwaukee to fill the seventh blueline spot, rather than re-sign Volchenkov.

What’s wrong with Franson in Nashville?

Dallas Stars v Nashville Predators

On Feb. 15, Preds GM David Poile made a big splash ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring a pair of former faces — ex-Nashville forward Mike Santorelli and defenseman Cody Franson — from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

While Santorelli was a nice depth pickup, Franson was the key to the deal. The 27-year-old had six goals and 32 points in 55 games at the time of the trade and was averaging more than 21 TOI per night; upon pulling the trigger, Poile called Franson “a veteran defenseman who could play in all situations,” adding he’d “seamlessly fit into our team.”

The transition has been anything but.

From the Tennessean:

In the past five games, he has been benched twice. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday, Franson didn’t take a shift in the third period, receiving a season-low 7:15 of ice time. Saturday, Franson’s last shift ended on Stars forward Colton Sceviour’s goal at 7:28 of the third period, a play in which he failed to clear the puck from in front of the crease.

Franson is averaging nearly six fewer minutes of ice time per game with the Predators than he did with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here’s the Sceviour goal in question:

Franson’s boxscore for the Dallas game was ugly. His 12:26 TOI was the second-lowest among d-men — only Victor Bartley, who played up front, received less — and Franson was the only Predator to finish with a minus rating (-2).

Digging beyond the traditional boxscore, Franson’s struggles are even more evident. He finished with the worst possession metrics (Corsi and Fenwick) on the team and, for a offensive-minded defenseman, his one shot attempt is startling — though to be fair, Franson’s power-play time has fallen since joining the Preds (Franson got no man advantage time at all versus Dallas, though it could be a chicken-or-egg situation… is he struggling because he’s not getting the power-play time, or is he not getting the power-play time because he’s struggling?)

At the simplest level, one can chalk this up to being a bad fit. Franson had far more opportunities on Toronto’s blueline than he does in Nashville, where the likes of Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Seth Jones are firmly entrenched in the top-four.

It’s also fair to suggest that, despite Poile’s optimism about familiarity, switching teams and conferences mid-season is more difficult a task than originally thought; consider Devante Smith-Pelly in Montreal, who scored his first goal in 18 games on Sunday, nearly a full month after coming over from Western Conference powerhouse Anaheim.

But the Franson situation is a bit more complex. It could be alleged he (and Santorelli, to a certain degree) have actually disrupted team chemistry — the Preds were 38-12-6 at the time of the trade, and just 9-10-4 since. Also, whatever offensive flair Franson had as a Maple Leaf has almost entirely escaped him as a Predator, as his points-per-game average has fallen from 0.47 to 0.14.

The big question moving ahead, of course, is if Franson will be dropped from the lineup. Nashville dressed seven defensemen on Saturday and had an eighth, Anton Volchenkov, sitting as a healthy scratch, so there are options for head coach Peter Laviolette to tinker with.

There are also questions about Franson’s future as he heads to unrestricted free agency this summer. How big an impact will this slump have on his market value? Could this be the case of a player that, having seen what Toronto’s become, is just a guy that put up really good numbers for a really bad team?

The Preds are off to the postseason, so Franson will have a few more chances to try and turn things around. But given his deployment over the last few weeks, it’ll be interesting to see how big — or, small — an opportunity it’ll be.