The Nashville Predators might be about to make significant changes to their roster this offseason.

After a disappointing result against the Arizona Coyotes, it’s pretty clear that David Poile isn’t happy. At his concluding press conference yesterday, he was direct about the need for change, despite the positive remarks from the players at their concluding media availability the day before.

“My job is to assess and evaluate with John [Hynes] how we can get better,” Poile said to the media yesterday. “I’ve got to provide John with some players that fit into his beliefs and his system.”

“I can’t sit here and tell you today what those changes are going to be over the next couple months,” he added. “All I can say at this time is that all options are on the table to make our team better for the ’20-21 season.”

All options are on the table. Nothing, and no one, is safe.

Poile did not discuss the negotiations with any of his pending unrestricted free agents, though he has several in the queue. He has one restricted free agent in Yakov Trenin, who I think has a good chance of returning in 2020-21.

So who are the most likely targets to not return next season? Here are six candidates.

Dan Hamhuis

Let’s start with the one we already know won’t return next year. Yesterday on a Vancouver radio station, Dan Hamhuis announced he was retiring from hockey.

Dam Hamhuis, who turns 38 later this year and was an on expiring contract, played in 60 games this year. He saw his role slowly diminish as the season went on and didn’t play in any of the Preds’ four games against the Coyotes.

Hamhuis is retiring at a low point in his career, but he was as solid a veteran as they come in hockey. Check out this thread from Nashville Predators’ Manager of Hockey Operations Brandon Walker for some insight into his character.

Korbinian Holzer

The Preds’ lone trade deadline acquisition was as forgettable as they come. They sent Matt Irwin and a 6th round pick to the Ducks for Holzer. He played in only three games, recorded four shots on goal, and did not register a point.

He was an 8th defenseman at best and did nothing to prove he would remain here long term. Given the Preds’ youth at defense in Milwaukee, the 32-year-old Holzer is not going to be back.

Yannick Weber

The Predators have been riding with Yannick Weber as their defacto “7th defenseman” since signing him to a free agent contract in 2016. Over the course of his four years in Nashville, he’s been inconsistent and, thus, a prototypical replacement level defenseman in the NHL.

Statistically, his best year came in 2018-19. He put up eight points in 62 games and generated a 52.4% on-ice shot attempt percentage at even strength. That’s not terrible, considering he cost a mere $675,000 against the cap.

He was marginally worse this past year and regularly lost time to other similarly ineffective defenseman like Holzer, Hamhuis, and Jarred Tinordi.

If the Preds are going to make significant changes, it hardly makes sense to re-sign a guy like Weber. He’s not a difference maker and he’s 31 years old. The Preds will let him walk and probably go with youth at defense next year.

Craig Smith

A long time fan favorite, Craig Smith is probably not going to be back next year. Though David Poile didn’t say as much in his press conference, reading between the lines, it looks to be that way.

Smith was at one time the Predators’ most consistent forward. You could count on 200 shots and 20 goals a season. But his reliability has been gradually reducing and his consistency is… well, no longer consistent. He also had the lowest average ice time of his career in 2019-20 at only 13:25 per game. That dropped even lower in the playoff series against Arizona, where he played only 12:49 per game.

If this year was indeed Smith’s swan song, it was a forgettable one, but “Crazy Legs” will still be fondly remembered by most Preds fans.

Mikael Granlund

There is a small chance David Poile signs Mikael Granlund to a deal. But it will be very hard for him to give Granlund a pay raise given his remarkably unproductive 79 games in Nashville.

The main reason Poile might bite the bullet and sign Granlund? To avoid utter embarrassment.

The trade that sent Kevin Fiala to Minnesota in exchange for Granlund looks to be one of his worst in the NHL, maybe even the worst. Fiala is flourishing in a playmaking role for the Wild and Granlund has seen a dramatic drop in productivity for the Preds.

As it stands, Granlund is likely to command north of $6 million on the market. He’s an unrestricted free agent, so the Preds have no leverage. Plus, there’s a flat cap for 2020-21, so David Poile doesn’t have cap inflation on his side.

There’s virtually nothing keeping Granlund here in Nashville, so it seems like an unlikely outcome.

Kyle Turris

The biggest question this offseason will be: how does David Poile deal with Kyle Turris?

Poile’s “elephant in the room” at Wednesday’s press conference was touched on briefly, with Poile giving an evasive answer on if Turris is part of the team’s plans moving forward.

“There’s gonna be some harder decisions made,” Poile said on the issue of buying out players. “We know what we have to spend, we’ve got to fit everything in to the box. That’s something we are working on right now in terms of any or all of the decisions we have to make about our roster going forward.”

I’ll just go ahead and put this out there: Kyle Turris won’t be on the Nashville Predators next season. Whether through a buy out or an incentive-laden trade, Poile will find a way to offload the remaining $24 million owed to Kyle Turris over the next four years. And as I pointed out here, a buyout wouldn’t be a bad option, considering the alternative.

— Featured image via Steve Roberts/USA TODAY Sports —


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