As they have approached the 2013 season, the Nashville Predators have banked on the consistency of their roster to give them an edge.
Tuesday, they made a move they hope will replace one of the few elements they lost during offseason.
Nashville claimed 25-year-old forward Richard Clune off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings to provide the type of competitiveness and toughness that Jordin Tootoo supplied for previous eight seasons. He was scheduled to be on the ice with the Predators for their Wednesday training camp session.
“We’re team-oriented and I think what we’ve just gotten here is a very good team player,” general manager David Poile said. “It’s a piece. Is he going to score a lot of goals, get a lot of points? I don’t think so. Could he play … a Jordin Tootoo-type of role? I think that’s possibly what he could be.”
Tootoo (5-foot-9, 199 pounds) had 125 points (46 goals, 79 assists) and 725 penalty minutes for Nashville before he signed as a free agent with Detroit last summer.
Clune is 5-foot-10, 207 pounds and a veteran of 14 NHL games, all of them in 2009-10 with the Kings. He did not score a goal, had just two assists but racked up 26 penalty minutes. He added five more penalty minutes in four postseason appearances that same year but did not participate during Los Angeles’ run to the Stanley Cup title last season.
He spent the lockout with the Kings’ AHL affiliate, Manchester, and had seven points (two goals, five assists) and 98 penalty minutes in 35 appearances.
“The Kings [are] the best team in the league and in a lot of ways they have some of the best depth in the National Hockey League and they couldn’t protect all their players,” Poile said. “Hopefully this is one that got away, if you will.
“… He’s an energy-type of player, a little bit like Jordin Tootoo. I think he brings that type of element to the team, a fearless type of player. He plays hard all the time. [He] will engage in fisticuffs if [it] is necessary.”
Originally drafted in the third round (71st overall) by the Dallas Stars, he set a career-high with 253 penalty minutes with Manchester last season.
“It feels like it’s a good fit,” Poile said. “… He’s really excited with the opportunity.
“… Jordin Tootoo played a lot of good hockey and did a lot of good things for us. If Richard Clune could be in that area I think it will be a good pickup for us.”