The Nashville Predators are about to enter a pivotal moment in their franchise. After watching his team lose in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Dallas Stars, David Poile all but guaranteed significant changes this summer.

We already know he is going to retain the entire coaching staff for next season, so the only changes he can really make are with the roster itself.

It’s too early to predict how the Preds will play the free agent market. We need to see how the playoffs finish and then how the NHL Entry Draft goes on June 21st. But considering that only 3 of the 28 players on the active roster were brought to the team via free agency, Preds fans shouldn’t expect too much. Poile builds the bulk of his teams through trades and the draft and I wouldn’t expect a dramatic change this summer.

However, there is still the matter of what Poile should do with his current expiring free agents (both unrestricted and restricted), so here’s a look at what the Predators might have to pay in order to keep these guys around.

Before we get going, a huge shout out to Evolving Hockey for putting together these contract predictions. You can read more about their model here.

Brian Boyle

Brian Boyle finished with just five points in 26 games for the Predators. However, it’s worth nothing that all five points were goals, one of which being the ever elusive power play goal.

There’s no doubt that the Preds benefited from having Boyle as a net front presence, both on the power play and at even strength. Though he may not have appeared on the score sheet every time, he influenced many goals for the Predators by simply being a large body in front of opposing goalies.

Frankly, that is something the Predators have been missing for… well, probably forever.

However, Boyle is getting a bit old for the type of game he plays. His age and moderate point production over the last few years puts his contract value at just around $1 million.

That price is right in David Poile’s wheelhouse. And for a guy that now has ties to Nashville (his sister is a country music singer in town) and who really seemed to gel instantly with the team and fanbase, this seems like a perfect fit.

Projected term and cap hit from Evolving Hockey: 1 year, $1.27 million

Likely contract offer from the Preds: 1 year, $1 million

Probability of signing with the Preds: High

Rocco Grimaldi

Is there another player on this roster with more positive reviews from this season than Rocco Grimaldi?

I doubt it.

Rocco Grimaldi Nashville Predators
Rocco Grimaldi led the team with three goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports.

Grimaldi went from a forgettable free agent signing last summer to a dark horse candidate to make the team in September to a surprising contributor during the season to a top six winger in the playoffs.

What a ride.

Though he only finished with 13 points on the season, his work rate and underlying possession stats were among the best on the team. Not to mention he was as consistent a player as the Preds had all season. As a restricted free agent, there’s almost no way he isn’t on the Preds next season (a trade would be about the only way that would be possible). There’s a chance Poile tries to lock him up to a longer term deal, but something in the two-year range would make sense as well.

Projected term and cap hit from Evolving Hockey: 2 years, $802 K per year

Likely contract offer from the Preds: 3 years, $1 million per year

Probability of signing with the Preds: Very High

Cody McLeod

It is very likely that you forgot Cody McLeod was on this roster. But he did play seven games for the Preds this year after coming over in a trade with the New York Rangers for a 7th round pick.

Poile and Laviolette both talked about how important McLeod was to the locker room when they defended this acquisition. It seemed questionable at the time, now it just seems downright silly.

I think there is a high probability McLeod calls it quits after this year. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a staff position with the Predators or another team, though I am not sure what that looks like.

At this point, McLeod offers little to no assistance to any hockey being played on the ice, so it seems his days as a Predators forward are over (for the second time).

Projected term and cap hit from Evolving Hockey: 1 year, $763 K per year

Likely contract offer from the Preds: -none-

Probability of signing with the Preds: Very Low

Zac Rinaldo

Somehow, Rinaldo’s cap hit projection from Evolving Hockey is slightly lower than McLeod’s. This is odd considering he actually didn’t have a terrible year and is five years younger than McLeod.

But like McLeod, I don’t think Rinaldo has a real future with this team. He was also a questionable signing last summer that ended up being a very typical below replacement level forward. He finished with 3 points in 23 games. He did manage to not get suspended from the league for any on-ice behavior though, which is saying something.

On that note, my favorite Zac Rinaldo stat still remains true after this season: he has more career games suspended (25) than career NHL goals (15).

Projected term and cap hit from Evolving Hockey: 1 year, $754 K per year

Likely contract offer from the Preds: -none-

Probability of signing with the Preds: Low

Wayne Simmonds

Wayne Simmonds was not the savior of the Predators’ power play as some hoped. He only managed three points in seventeen games with the Preds and none were on the power play.

Wayne Simmonds Nashville Predators
Wayne Simmonds scored one goal for the Preds after being traded for Ryan Hartman and a 4th round pick. Image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports.

Though you can see Poile’s thinking in bringing Simmonds on board, for whatever reason it just didn’t work out. He was unable to get up to the speed of Laviolette’s system and couldn’t generate any chemistry with his linemates.

Simmonds’ declining production over the last few years is obvious if you watched him on the ice, but here it is in plain black and white.

Points per game, by year:

  • 2015-16: 0.74
  • 2016-17: 0.66
  • 2017-18: 0.61
  • 2018-19: 0.38

Though he is only 30 years old, Simmonds is not aging well. The Predators are not likely to re-sign a player with that sort of trend line. Especially if they take a chance on bringing back Brian Boyle and especially if the price tag for Simmonds is as high as Evolving Hockey thinks it will be.

Projected term and cap hit from Evolving Hockey:5 years, $5.04 million per year

Likely contract offer from the Preds: 3 years, $3 million per year (or most likely -none-)

Probability of signing with the Preds: Low

Colton Sissons

The Preds other restricted free agent this summer, Colton Sissons finds himself in fine negotiating position. Coming off that miraculous 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff run, he managed to increase his production in back to back seasons, capping it with a career high 30 point season this past year.

Sissons has started to cement his place as a “middle six” forward for the Preds, and one with a lot of versatility. He can play center or wing. He can play on special teams. He can hold his own defensively. He has some offensive talent.

He might be a better Calle Jarnkrok than Calle Jarnkrok when it’s all said and done.

But one thing David Poile will have to consider when signing Colton Sissons this summer is the Seattle expansion draft. All signs point to that expansion draft taking place in 2021, so signing players beyond that is risky. Poile would be smart to keep Sissons’ next contract (which would then be unrestricted) negotiable by the Preds in the summer of 2021 instead of leaving a player with a good contract unprotected.

Projected term and cap hit from Evolving Hockey: 3 years, $2.69 million per year

Likely contract offer from the Preds: 2 years, $3 million per year 

Probability of signing with the Preds: Very High

— Featured image via Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports —

 

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