Free agency opens in six days and there are quite a few prominent players set to hit the open market, especially after today’s qualifying offer deadline. Those who received offers and remain restricted still need to be re-signed as well. Nashville has only two such RFA’s, but plenty of UFA’s in need of attention. Here’s a closer look at their free agent situation:
Key Restricted Free Agents: F Colton Sissons – Sissons proved that the 2017-18 season and bookend postseasons were no fluke with his performance this year. Sissons emerged on the scene during the Predators’ 2017 Stanley Cup run and he has not let up since. Not only did the 25-year-old set career highs with 15 goals and 30 points this season, he continued to show that he is a high-end defensive forward. It was a dominant year at the face-off dot for Sissons, who also led the team in hits and was second in blocked shots among forwards. Sissons was a force in the bottom-six and the team would like to have him there long term. Nashville is famous for signing budding young players to team-friendly long-term deals and Sissons is a prime candidate to be the next in line. With offensive totals that are still relatively low and a role on the team that could still technically be considered “fourth-line”, Sissons could be taken for a good rate on a long-term deal only to continue blossoming into an elite two-way center.
F Rocco Grimaldi – After bouncing around from Florida to Colorado and not being made a qualifying offer last summer, Grimaldi signed with Nashville and finally found a team willing to give him consistent ice time and opportunity. The 5’6″ forward responded with a career-high 13 points and 53 games, as well as some impressive possession metrics. Grimaldi is limited by his size and may never be a full-time player, especially in the more aggressive Western Conference, but the Predators solved the puzzle of how best to use him last year and he will likely be an affordable extension that can continue to be a capable depth piece. His mere $715K qualifying offer may even be a fair place to start.
Other RFAs: None
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F Wayne Simmonds – Simmonds is a key free agent… for other teams. The Predators have already announced that they will not bring back the 30-year-old power forward. Though really, who can blame them? After coming over from Philadelphia at the trade deadline, Simmonds recorded just three points in 17 regular season games and was benched for all but two of the Predators’ playoff games. It was a bad fit for both sides and a continued partnership seemed like a long shot. Simmonds may be slowing down, but the interest in him is reportedly still heating up. The respected veteran will be playing in the NHL for years to come still, just not in Nashville.
F Brian Boyle – Boyle, on the other hand, was a trade acquisition who did work out and there could be mutual interest in an extension. The 34-year-old did not produce much on the score sheet, but excelled defensively, as he always have. A big, physical presence who plays a smart defensive game, Boyle is the time of veteran fourth liner that can put a contender over the top. At the right price, Nashville wouldn’t mind being that defender. However, Boyle will have to come down from his expiring $2.55MM cap hit to remain a Predator, but other teams may be willing to maintain that salary.
Other UFAs: F Phil Di Giuseppe, F Tyler Gaudet, F Justin Kirkland, G Tom McCollum, F Cody McLeod, F Zac Rinaldo, F Cole Schneider
Projected Cap Space: Moving a $9MM cap hit off the books in exchange for next to no salary in return will do wonders for your cap space. Following the P.K. Subban trade, the Predators now have an estimated $13.2MM in cap space accounting for 21 players, a few of whom will not be on the opening night roster. That should leave the team with more than enough room to get Sissons and Grimaldi under contract, as well as bring in a big-name free agent (read: Matt Duchene).
If Poile lands Duchene, the Jackets then become a prime trade candidate for Kyle Turris. Jackets need someone to help replace Panarin and Duchene, Turris will certainly be made available to them.