Originally posted on Fang Faction  |  Last updated 7/5/13
David Poile signed 5 players within an hour and a half and moved the Predators into 8th position in terms of highest cap hit. Long-time Predators fans should be surprised by everything I just said; but after seemingly snoozing through the first 2 hours of free agency, Poile and the organization literally busted a move and began handing out contracts to everyone and anyone who didn't want long term deals and wasn't going to (individually) break the bank. But the question on everyone’s mind has to be “What’s the end game Dave?” Let’s start with Carter Hutton, the 27 year old AHL goalie with one NHL game under his belt. Signed on a two way contract, it’s unclear if this will be a Pekka Rinne back up or a golden brick road for Hellberg’s move to the NHL. Or neither, and there could be more goalie signings in the works. It’s a very obscure signing, but I will give the Preds the benefit of the doubt on this one: they have a good goalie coach who knows talent. Maybe there’s more to Hutton than other teams have seen. Now, let’s talk forwards – because we really need to talk about forwards. We technically lost 2 forwards since last season: Halischuk who we didn’t re-sign, and Kostitsyn who peaced out to the motherland. We also lost a top six forward in Erat at the deadline. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of our crippled AHL lineup that we were using for the better part of second half of the season – forwards were definitely needed. So we did need a solid crew of NHLers to come in and take over. And in the free agent market that we saw today, it’s not surprise that they are all slightly over-payed. But I definitely don’t think that Poile got fleeced by any means. Heck, when you look at the price tags on Bozak, Horton or McArthur today, you might even think that our GM made out quite well. But Poile’s moves were none the less quite interesting. Signing 4 aging, declining forwards to no longer than 4 years without – in my opinion – fully understanding where they would fit into the lineup. That’s one of the difficult things about this summer actually, with so many injuries last season it’s hard to identify the areas to replace. So Poile kinda went for a grab bag of players. A well aged veteran who still puts up respectable numbers, a very well respected tough-guy and shootout specialist, a right wing Swede who put up good numbers last season despite having his lines juggled furiously, and a tenth overall pick who never really found a good stride. Together these players make the framework for a pretty crappy hockey sitcom, but they also give Poile options – lots of them. We have 13 NHL forwards on our team, add Forsberg and you get 14, plus the plethora of Milwaukee players that delivered in our time of need last year. We will have a full summer to see who is fitting where and who still needs work. Maybe Wilson is a 2nd line center this year? Maybe he isn’t. We don’t know and neither does Poile, because Wilson only played half the season last year. Same questions can be asked for Hornqvist, Bourque, Gaustad … we don’t know where they can fit in this season. Which is why we shouldn’t expect a trade too soon. Yes, we have 9 centers on our roster (not including plausible AHL call ups). Trotz can move some of those around but surely some won’t be on the NHL team. We do likely need a veteran defender, and there could be a package offer going out to select teams as the summer proceeds. But Trotz and management will want to get some ice time in before anything too crazy is proposed. It’s also the reason signing a 7 year Horton or MacArthur contract is not what we needed this offseason. We needed options more than a dominant player signed long term for an exhausting amount. We have a good team that we didn’t get to see last year. Today we added a supporting cast that can all make phenomenal individual contributions. We got four players who can be top six or bottom six depending on the day and need. We got flexibility. Poile did good today guys – he did good. Oh and just for fun, here are my offensive lines for the start of next season: Bourque – Cullen – Hornqvist Stalberg – Fisher – Wilson Forsberg – Gaustad – Nystrom Hendricks – Legwand – Clune Trade Bait: Spaling, Smith Total speculations of course. As always if you hate or love the things I say, hit me up on the Twitter @CanadasPredsFan or in the comments section. 
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