It’s not only Mikael Granlund that is heading to Nashville today. The Predators have also signed Erik Haula according to several reports including Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic. The deal will pay Haula $1.75MM for the 2020-21 season.
Haula, 29, joins a crowded room in Nashville for the upcoming season. The team had already added Nick Cousins, Luke Kunin, and Brad Richardson this offseason and now will be bringing back Granlund, meaning there are certainly more than 12 NHL forwards vying for spots. In Haula, arguably the best center on the market, the Predators are securing a bottom-six option that has shown an ability to move up in the lineup in the past.
During the magical 2017-18 season with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, he scored 29 goals and 55 points in 76 games. That was followed by an unfortunate injury early in the 2018-19 campaign that limited him to just 15 regular season games and then a disappointing 2019-20 campaign. Haula played 41 games for the Carolina Hurricanes and registered 12 goals and 22 points before a trade took him to Florida for a handful of matches.
Now in Nashville, it’s unclear exactly what role he’ll be asked to fill, but for $1.75MM it doesn’t really matter. The Predators are taking a swing with a bargain-basement contract for a player who was being squeezed out of the market and could win big if he returns to that 2017 level. If he performs like he did last year, he’s still likely worth the money as a checking depth option.
With Granlund and Haula signed, all eyes will now turn to Mike Hoffman and his continued unemployment. There’s no doubt that he’s the best forward left on the market, though there are still some interesting names like Andreas Athanasiou out there. The market is obviously picking up now that the season is a go, with more signings to come in the next few days and weeks.