On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators placed forward Zack Stortini on waivers, while picking up tough guy Brian McGrattan off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.
If Stortini clears waivers, he will be sent to the Milwaukee Admirals, a team he has played for before.
Chosen 94th overall by the Edmonton Oilers, Stortini split time between two American Hockey League cities after his junior career with the Sudbury Wolves ended. During the 2005-06 season, Stortini played for the Iowa Stars and the Admirals.
While Milwaukee has been affiliated with the Predators since the team’s first season, the Oilers used five AHL affiliates to house its prospects between 2005-07, including the Grand Rapid Griffins, Iowa Stars, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Hamilton Bulldogs and the Admirals.
Predators defenseman Kevin Klein played with Stortini in Milwaukee. Before Stortini was waived, Klein spoke about his former teammate.
“He is a great guy in the room,” Klein said, adding “He’s a great team guy. He was in a different system, but we had a deal where he came over and played for Milwaukee. I’ve known him for a long time, even a little bit in Junior. I used to play against him all the time.” Klein played for both the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors as well as the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League before joining the Admirals in 2004.
Stortini signed a one year, two-way contract with the Predators on July 5th. The contract was worth $550 000 at the NHL level, $75 000 in the AHL.
The 26 year old had a strong training camp, so news that Stortini was waived comes as a surprise. The right wing worked hard, played well and showed incredible restraint in a pre-season game against Winnipeg that resulted in a double minor power play for Nashville.
Stortini checked Winnipeg’s Troy Brodie into the boards behind the Jets net. Brodie body-slammed Stortini in retaliation and tried to fight him, but the Predator refused and a double-minor for roughing was called against the Jets. Nashville, behind by one goal, scored twice to take the lead. The Predators won the game by a 4-3 score.
Buddy Oakes from Predsontheglass.com talked to Stortini after the Winnipeg game. “It’s something that’s not always easy, but it’s important to have that mindset and be cognizant of what’s going on out there on the ice. It was a situation where we needed a power play and I was fortunate enough to draw one,” Stortini explained.
After earning an initial spot on the roster, Stortini saw action in Nashville’s second game of the season against St. Louis in Nashville’s 4-2 win Saturday night. The 6’4, 225 pound forward played 4:53 and was called for two penalties, including a five minute major.
In an attempt to swing the game’s momentum Saturday night, Stortini fought Ryan Reaves just over a minute after the Blues opened scoring at 7:44 of the first period on a goal from Patrik Berglund. It took less than three minutes for Nashville to tie the game after the fight. The Predators went on to double the Blues 4-2.
Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz evaluated Stortini’s performance Saturday night after the game. “He was good. He was physical. He was involved and that is what you want. He was taking the body. I don’t have any problem with him defensively. A little penalty at the end of the second was a little bit untimely for us and for him, but he comes to compete and he is a really good teammate,” Trotz said.
Klein also has high praise of Stortini saying he has evolved since his days in Milwaukee as an Oilers prospect. “He has come a long way as a player. He gets the job done. He brings that physical aspect, which is nice. He brings that energy and gets out there to protect the boys,” Klein said.
As for Stortini, he was happy to be in Nashville. “There’s a great group of guys here. We have a ton of character guys and they’ve been very warm and welcoming. I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re so supportive. They work really hard and it’s great to be a teammate of everyone in this room,” he said.
With Stortini out, McGrattan is in. With 182 NHL contests under his belt, the Hamilton, Ontario native has seen action with Ottawa, Phoenix and Calgary since the 2005-06 season, scoring three goals, adding 11 assists as well as 395 penalty minutes. Last season, McGrattan did not play in the NHL, but rather split time between Providence and Syracuse in the AHL.
Photo credit: AP