The Nashville Predators are starting their offseason a little earlier than they expected, after being eliminated by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. Now they have to face the tough decisions of who to bring back, including those who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Adam Vingan of the Tennessean reports that it is unlikely that Alexei Emelin will be back with the team in 2018-19, and that they’ve already made the decision to not offer a contract to Scott Hartnell. Both players will become UFAs on July 1st.
Emelin was brought in last summer in a trade from the Vegas Golden Knights, after the team had selected him in the expansion draft. Nashville sent a third-round pick back to the Golden Knights, adding Emelin to help while they dealt with an injury to Ryan Ellis. Unfortunately, Emelin wasn’t all that effective in his one season in Nashville and would see his minutes reduced dramatically in the postseason. In 76 regular season games he registered just nine points, but did continue to be a physical presence racking up 181 hits (second on the team to only Austin Watson).
The 32-year old defenseman is coming off the final season of a four-year $16.4MM contract he signed in 2013, and will likely have to settle for something much smaller this summer. Though there will certainly be interest in him as a depth defenseman with experience playing against top competition, it doesn’t look like he can any longer be the minute-munching top-4 option he once was.
For Hartnell, it may be getting close to the end. The 36-year old winger did register 24 points in 62 games in his return to Nashville, but was essentially unused in the playoffs and doesn’t have a clear future. Bought out by the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer, there may be some interest from around the league on another one-year deal, but there isn’t much evidence he can be an impact player anymore. The former 37-goal scorer could have to settle for an incentive-based contract for 2018-19, if he decides to keep playing.