The Nashville Predators never have been known as big spenders.
Thursday, though, they paid somebody to go away. As part of their preparations for the 2011-12 contract year, which begins 11 a.m. (CDT) Friday, they bought out the contract of veteran forward J-P Dumont.
Dumont had one year remaining on his deal and was scheduled to earn $4 million in the coming season. Under rules of the collective bargaining agreement, a player his age is owed two-thirds of his remaining deal in a buyout, payable over one or two seasons.
The Predators elected to pay Dumont $1.33 million each of the next two seasons. That money counts against the salary cap.
“It’s disappointing, if you will, for both us and for J-P,” General Manager David Poile said. “I think it puts him in a good position now, prior to [Friday] to be a free agent and to go out there and seek other opportunities.”
The 33-year-old signed as a free agent with Nashville prior to the start of the 2006-07 season and averaged 67.7 points during his first three seasons. He became the only player in franchise history with more than 40 assists in three straight seasons.
His role decreased slightly in 2009-10 and significantly in 2010-11, when he had just 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) and averaged 11:10 of ice time in 70 regular season appearances. He was a healthy scratch for the majority of the Predators’ longest playoff run.
In 306 games with Nashville, he recorded 93 goals and 174 assists.
“J-P is a player who gave us a terrific shot in the arm from an offensive standpoint,” Poile said. He was a great player for us. Unfortunately for us and for J-P, last year was a tough year. He didn’t play as much as he thought he should play.
The removal of Dumont leaves nine forwards signed for 2011-12.
Poile also addressed several other issues related to the roster:
• Defenseman Shane O’Brien, acquired in a trade from Vancouver at the end of training camp last season, will not be re-signed. The veteran will be an unrestricted free agent.
“I think Shane did a real good job for us,” Poile said. “It’s no indictment against Shane. … We think we have so many younger defensemen coming in our depth. … More than anything, we just made the decision to go in-house.”
• Center Marcel Goc and right wing Joel Ward will test the market as unrestricted free agents. Poile said the club remains interested in bringing back the two.
“We’ve talked to them and their agents,” Poile said. “I suspect at some point [Friday] afternoon, we’ll talk to both of them. … When you get into this situation, there’s certainly no guarantees for us or for the players.”
• Negotiations with captain Shea Weber remain a work in progress. The team made him a qualifying offer and opted for arbitration, which guaranteed his rights to the Predators from the coming season, but has not helped the sides close ground.
“We haven’t gotten there in terms of the right years and the right dollars,” Poile said. “… We work on that on a regular basis.”