Barry Trotz called it a “stigma” attached to the Nashville Predators.
Yet the head coach made it clear that he is not in a hurry to change anyone’s perception of his team as being offensively challenged.
“All I know is that the two teams playing in the [Stanley Cup] final were the No. 1 and No. 2 defensive teams in the National Hockey League,” Trotz said Wednesday at the team’s prospects conditioning camp. “We were third.
“So we don’t want to get away from that idea.”
Thursday is the final day of the NHL contract year and the new free agency period begins 11 a.m. (CDT) Friday.
Given Trotz’s assessment of things, it seems unlikely that the Predators will make a big splash in free agency by adding a major offensive talent.
“Our offense has been pretty good in the last couple years, although in some of the special teams areas we could be a little more productive,” Trotz said. “We’re growing that area.”
“Obviously, we do it collectively. We don’t have a 50-goal scorer in our lineup as of yet — I think we’re capable of that down the road.”
Beyond the organizational philosophy, there’s also the fact that Nashville already has almost a roster’s worth of players under contract or having received qualifying offers.
There are 10 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies from the team’s playoff roster or on injured reserve who are signed for 2011-12 or beyond, and together they account for $40,837,500 in salary cap space, according to capgeek.com.
That is nearly $8 million below the salary cap floor and almost $23 million from the maximum allowed, but Nashville easily can get to the cap floor with deals for its restricted free agents, led by captain Shea Weber.
• Players under contract (with 2011-12 salary) — Martin Erat ($6 million), David Legwand ($4.5 million), Mike Fisher ($4 million), J-P Dumont ($4 million), Pekka Rinne ($4 million), Matthew Lombardi ($3.5 million), Ryan Suter ($3.5 million), Patric Hornqvist ($3 million), Francis Bouillon ($1.5 million), Jordin Tootoo ($1.35 million), Kevin Klein ($1.35 million), Colin Wilson ($875,000), Blake Geoffrion ($850,000), Cody Franson ($800,000), Jerred Smithson ($800,000), Jonathon Blum ($787,500) and Anders Lindback ($737,500).
• Restricted free agents (received qualifying offers) — Matt Halischuk, Sergei Kostitsyn, Cal O’Reilly, Nick Spaling, and Shea Weber.
• Unrestricted free agents: Marcel Goc, Shane O’Brien, Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward.
Questions arose Wednesday regarding the status of Halischuk, Kostitsyn, O'Reilly and Spaling and, according to reports late in the day, the NHL Players Association filed a grievance on their behalf.
The contention is that they did not receive their qualifying offers in a timely manner.
The NHL office issued a statement earlier in the day that supported the franchise and its actions in that regard.
"We are not aware of any defects relating to Qualifying Offers tendered by the Nashville Predators to certain of the team's players as several media outlets are reporting," the statement said. "Those players, having timely received Qualifying Offers, will be Restricted Free Agents as of July 1, and both the players and the team will be accorded the various rights and benefits of Restricted Free Agency as are set forth in CBA."
• A downside to the fact that Nashville — for the first time — used its first two draft picks on players from Europe emerged in the first two days of the prospects conditioning camp.
Neither second-round choice — goalie Magnus Hellberg and forward Miikka Salomaki — has his equipment, which needed to be sent. Salomaki was unable to participate in on-ice work Wednesday, but Hellberg was, courtesy of the organization’s two established goalies, who are about the same size.
“I have Pekka Rinne’s pads and gloves, [Anders] Lindback’s chest [protector] and Rinne’s helmet,” Hellberg said.