Available Predators don't stay on NHL free agent market for long

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 3:29pm

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.

4 Comments on this post:

By: ancienthighway on 7/1/11 at 5:43

I find it simply unbelievable that the Preds management would think they could let Goc and Ward try free agency and then be able to resign them on the cheap when no one took them. Seven players filed grievances with the Preds for not receiving qualifying offers sounds like there's a 50/50 chance they are gone. I guess the depth at Milwaukee is going to have to step up, which will be difficult with 3 of those filing grievance being those the Preds were counting on stepping up.

It really is time for the team to step up and realize they need to spend some money. So much for going deeper in the playoffs providing money for the team to improve. The way things are looking right now, making the playoffs will be questionable.

By: Lorenzo on 7/2/11 at 9:03

Apparently the Predators management is so obsessed with clearing salary cap money to sign Weber they have put on blinders and failed to realize Weber needs an real NHL team behind him.

If the arbitration hearing goes favorably for the RFA then next season will, in all probably, be a square one rebuilding unit. Could Mr. Poile possibly not realize that without quality players throughout the team Weber will bolt at first opportunity once he sees he has only an untested team to play with? Heck, if I was Ryan Suiter I would already have my bags half packed too.

Someone said Goc did not the fit the Predators mold. Just what is the mold of Predators' player? Apparently it is a Milwaukee Admiral player with two years of AHL experience.

By: cookeville on 7/4/11 at 4:29

I think we need to wait until it all shakes out before we launch a ton of criticism at Poile. He is a seasoned GM and knows what he is doing. These moves he's made already has freed up the money to pay Weber AND hire some quality offensive players. Keep the faith. Get rid of those negative vibrations. They are bad for you and the universe generally.

By: 4gold on 7/5/11 at 5:57

Poille has done a good job up until this point. Too bad he picked this year to take a vacation. I don't understand anything he has done. I am searching for a positive somewhere. I can't find one.