The Nashville Predators locked up the back half of their defense corps today, inking Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber and Anthony Bitetto to minimum-salary deals. The question now will be about Alexei Emelin, and where he fits into the picture. Emelin is an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic tweets that the two sides plan on meeting after the season to “discuss things.”
Emelin has been a fine addition to the Predators this season, able to fill in admirably while Ryan Ellis was out for the first half of the season with an injury. Now that he’s back, Emelin’s role is expected to decline though he still provides excellent depth for a potential playoff run. He also could be used closer to the deadline as a trade chip for the Predators, since part of his salary is already being covered by the Vegas Golden Knights.
- Brendan Guhle will make his season debut for the Buffalo Sabres tonight, though a move will need to happen to reduce their roster size before that happens. Guhle is expected to skate alongisde Jake McCabe, in a long awaited return after spending three games with the NHL club during last season. Guhle is an impressive defenseman, capable of taking pucks away in his own end and moving them quickly into offensive chances, and should improve a Sabres defensive unit that has struggled mightily this season. The group of Victor Antipin, Nathan Beaulieu, Josh Gorges, Justin Falk and Zach Bogosian have just 11 points combined, despite totaling 111 games played.
- Jaden Schwartz was having the best season of his career when he went down to injury last month, scoring 35 points in 30 games. The St. Louis Blues’ offense hasn’t been the same without him, but they could get a boost before long. Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reports that Schwartz is out of his walking boot and still on target for a re-evaluation on January 20th, which isn’t as far away for the club as it might seem. After tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Blues have their CBA-mandated bye week and won’t get back into game action until January 16th.