This time Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward did not come back, although in the case of the former that was a forgone conclusion.
Sullivan signed a one-year deal for $1.5 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, the first day of the new NHL free agency period. The Penguins’ general manager is Ray Shero, a former assistant GM in Nashville.
Ward went to the Washington Capitals on a four-year, $12 million pact.
Both tested the free agent market two years ago before they quickly re-signed with the Predators. This time, Nashville opted not to make an offer to Sullivan but hoped to keep Ward, who had seven goals and six assists during the postseason.
Also gone is center Marcel Goc, who signed a three-year, $5.1 million contract with the Florid Panthers, one of the busiest teams in the free agent market.
Sullivan played his last five-plus seasons with the Predators but also missed the entire 2007-08 campaign with a back injury. A groin issue limited him to just 44 games, during which he had 10 goals and 12 assists, last season.
The 36-year-old had 100 goals and 163 assists in 317 appearances for the team. He is one of only four players with at least 100 goals for the Predators.
Ward, 30, has played all but 11 of his 241 career NHL contests with Nashville. He had a career-high 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 2008-09 and saw his production drop each of the following seasons before he emerged as the team’s most consistent point producer in last season’s playoffs.
Goc was another player the Predators hoped to retain. His 2010-11 season was cut short by a shoulder injury, but he still enjoyed his most productive offensive campaigns while with Nashville, He had a career-high 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 2009-10 and added 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 15 appearances last season.
The Panthers entered free agency well below the minimum overall salary requirements and Goc’s deal was one of five struck by the team in the opening hours of free agency, which included one with former Nashville first-round draft pick Scottie Upshall.