Kukla's Korner Hockey
Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed free-agent defenseman Anton Volchenkov to a one-year, $1 million contract.
“Anton provides a strong veteran presence that will complement our young, talented defensive corps nicely,” Poile said. “He is a physical, left-handed shooting defenseman who can match up with top-line forwards and effectively kill penalties.”
Volchenkov, 32 (2/25/82), has suited up for 650 games for New Jersey and Ottawa (where he played with both Matt Cullen and Mike Fisher) since the 2002-03 campaign, posting 126 points (19g-107a) and 424 penalty minutes. Since 2005-06, the 6-1, 225-pound blueliner has the second-most blocked shots among all skaters (1,395) and the 10th-most hits among defensemen (1,313).
from Josh Cooper of The Tennessean,
Why do players not want to come to Nashville? It’s a tough question to answer. This place has a lot of elements going for it. For one, this is a growing hockey market that plays to big crowds at Bridgestone Arena on most nights.
There’s no state income tax, it’s an inexpensive place to live in, the winter weather is mild (a big deal for Canadians), and the team has a few good players in defenseman Shea Weber, forward James Neal and goaltender Pekka Rinne, and younger talents in defensemen Seth Jones and Roman Josi.
Yet, Poile must grimmace when he hears this from players — since he has basically built this franchise from the ground up.
Three posible reasons why the Predators may be on players’ no-go lists.
1. FEEL OF AN EXPANSION TEAM
A former player joked with me on the phone during a recent interview “are the Predators still rebuilding?” It was said in jest, but players talk, and if that’s the vibe about here from other players, then that’s not good.
from David Climer of The Tennessean,
With Peter Laviolette now in place as coach, the Preds have shifted gears. General manager David Poile dealt for skilled forward James Neal and has added veteran center Olli Jokinen in free agency. And Poile keeps hinting he’s not done.
It’s about time the Preds rolled the dice. Changing coaches and systems was a start. Acquiring players that don’t treat the goal like a no-fly zone is the next step.
Look, I have nothing but respect for the job Trotz did with the Preds. He consistently got more out of his team than the sum of its parts. The Preds’ failure to make the playoffs in the last two seasons was due to shortcomings on the roster and injuries, not Trotz’s strategy.
But things had grown stale. It was time for a fresh start and a new philosophy, one that doesn’t begin and end with strong defense and quality goaltending.
Del Zotto is 24 years old and shoots from the left side.
from Josh Cooper of the Tennessean,
The Predators and Michael Del Zotto appear to be done with each other.
Calling the 24-year-old defenseman “not a fit” for Nashville, Predators general manager David Poile said he had not yet given the restricted free agent a qualifying offer, which is due by 4 p.m. Monday.
That leaves three options for Del Zotto: He either will be traded, signed to an extension or left without a qualifying offer, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.
The last option seems the likeliest possibility. Last week, Del Zotto’s agent, Mark Guy, said he and the Predators had no discussions on an extension, and nothing appeared to have changed as of Sunday.
“Del Zotto is a good player. He’s a good offensive player. He couldn’t get ahead of (Roman) Josi, (Shea) Weber, (Seth) Jones and (Ryan) Ellis in the offensive situations,” Poile said Sunday. “We have all these balls in the air. We’ll see what happens.”
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
It's easy to say good riddance to James Neal. He badly underachieved for the Penguins in the postseason. He is a hot head who often took retaliatory penalties that put his teammates in bad spots. He is a dirty player who occasionally tried to hurt people and was suspended three times, including last season for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head and in the 2012 playoffs for charging Philadelphia's Claude Giroux. He wasn't especially popular in the team room because of his arrogance and surly personality....
It's a shame Neal didn't do more here in the postseason. It would have made it a lot easier to overlook his character flaws. But he hardly was alone among the Penguins in wilting under the bright lights. He had two goals in 13 playoff games this spring, one more than Crosby. He didn't get a point in the four-game sweep by Boston in the 2013 Eastern Conference final, same as Crosby. He had 11 goals and 11 assists in 38 postseason games for the Penguins, meager production for a player with his skills. There aren't five players in the NHL with a quicker release or better shot. Neal scored 40 goals in 2011-12, playing with Malkin, and had 27 last season despite missing 23 games because of injury or suspension. He should get 40 goals again -- perhaps a few times -- before his career is done.
By trading Neal, Penguins new general manager Jim Rutherford believes he successfully took the first step toward changing the culture of the team room. He talked repeatedly of the character and grit that Hornqvist and Spaling bring and said they will make the club tougher and better prepared for the playoffs.
“I don’t get it. When you talk about winning and losing, I know you want to go to a team to win a Cup, but we’re as committed as anybody. Who knows, maybe we’re closer than anybody thinks."
“You have to sell your team all the time. But there are teams that are national TV or major markets. I get that. But what we have on the ice, what we have off the ice, no state taxes. There’s a lot of advantage to playing in Nashville. But you can ask Peter Forsberg what he thought about Nashville, or Paul Kariya, just to drop a few names of players who might be going to the Hall of Fame."
“I get it. That’s the way the world is right now. There’s a lot of entitlement."
-David Poile, GM of the Nashville Predators on Jason Spezza not wanting to play in Nashville. More from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Neal can score but people say he isn’t a life of the party kind of guy. The feeling in some quarters is he thinks he’s better than he is, too, also he’s been suspended for some foolish stuff. Everybody gets traded in this game but Neal–a scorer in a league where teams crave scorers– has been dealt twice and he’s only 26. From Dallas to Pittsburgh, and now from the Penguins to the Predators, where they’re also trying to get more offence, although they still need a centre for Neal. Hello Paul Stastny, if they can afford the unrestricted Colorado Avs’ playmaker and he might have a hankering to play with Shea Weber on defence, as well.
Neal’s a one-shot scorer. “Exactly,” said Preds’ GM David Poile.
Hornqvist is a better skating Tomas Holmstrom. “Exactly,” said Poile.
Scores his goals 10 to 15 feet from the net. “Closer than that,” laughed Poile.
“He can get 30 goals if he plays with Malkin. This might be one of those trades that turn out for both teams.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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