In his mailbag feature published today, Adam Vingan of The Tennessean offers his thoughts on several Predators-related topics. Included among them is his take on which Nashville forward the team might leave unprotected in the expansion draft.
The Preds will have two options when it comes to determining who to keep. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or they can choose to protect eight skaters and one net minder. Vingan believes Nashville will go with the latter option so they can protect defensemen P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.
Under that scenario the Predators would only be allowed to protect four forwards. Vingan considers Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and James Neal as locks. For the last protected spot, Vingan believes it should go to Craig Smith. That leaves, in the opinion of the scribe, Calle Jarnkrok as the most appealing option for Las Vegas.
Jarnkrok, coming off a 16-goal, 30-point campaign, inked a six-year, $12MM extension with Nashville prior to the start of the 2016-17 campaign. Vingan thinks a young, versatile forward with upside and on an inexpensive, long-term contract is a perfect get for an expansion club.
More from around the NHL’s Central Division:
- The Minnesota Wild face a tough call with regards to young forward Joel Eriksson Ek. The team’s first round pick in 2015, Eriksson Ek has already seen action in nine games this season and has contributed two goals and five points during that time. Of course as a first-year player on an ELC, if Eriksson Ek makes one more appearance for the Wild he will burn a year off of his ELC, regardless of whether he spends the rest of the year in Minnesota or not. As Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes, the team will likely make the 19-year-old a healthy scratch for this evening’s game in Ottawa in order to give them more time to make that decision. Eriksson Ek started out hot, tallying five points in his first four games but has been held scoreless in his last five. Head coach Bruce Boudreau indicated the decision will be based solely what’s going to be best for the player rather than any thought of ensuring themselves three full seasons at a fixed and bargain price: “If he doesn’t play tonight it gives us another 24 hours to think about what we want to do. He’s done really well. But again, in the long term, it’s what’s best for him that we’re thinking of.’’ Should the team elect to reassign Eriksson Ek, thus saving a year on his ELC, they have the option of sending him either to their AHL affiliate in Iowa or returning him to his Swedish team.
- Robby Fabbri, who was a healthy scratch for the first time in his playing career at any level of hockey on Thursday, was reinserted into the lineup for last night’s game against Columbus and as Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, the young winger responded with a two-goal effort. Blues bench boss Ken Hitchcock believes it’s time for the talented Fabrri to grab hold of a top-nine role with the team: “He’s just got to be a good player. He played two really good games and then he had a tough night. When you’re going to play up the lineup like he is, you need a good player. It doesn’t matter who’s in that spot, he has to be a good player. You can’t be carrying a guy in that spot, otherwise you make yourself part of the group of 14. We need him to be part of group of 7 or 8. When he’s there, he’s really effective. That’s what we need. We need him to think, ‘I’m a go-to guy so I have to play like a go-to guy,’ so his tenacity and skill makes him a very effective player, but tenacity and work ethic has to be there every night.” Fabbri had a strong rookie season in 2015-16, scoring 18 goals and 37 points in 72 games. But until netting two man-advantage goals Saturday evening, Fabbri had netted just one marker in 14 appearances this season.