Borrowing and Carrying
Posted By: Aaron Sims
Leave for a week and a lot can happen, huh?
Milwaukee’s parent club, Nashville, has had a busy couple weeks. It started, of course, with the promotion of Lane Lambert from head coach of the Admirals to assistant with the Predators.
The franchise added several potential NHLers in the draft.
Nine days ago, former Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller was tabbed as the Admirals new head coach.
Since then, organization mainstays have been moved. Free agency saw Steve Sullivan, Marcel Goc, Mark Dekanich, Aaron Johnson, Brett Palin and Joel Ward move to other teams. Via trade, Andreas Thuresson, Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson are gone.
The team has added Brett Lebda, Robert Slaney, Brodie Dupont, Niclas Bergfors, Kyle Wilson and Zack Stortini.
I like the Thuresson trade. It gives him the chance for a fresh start after four seasons in Milwaukee. It also brings in a player, Dupont
, who has displayed some grit, has good size and has put up double-digit goals numbers the last three seasons. This trade was close to being completed in the middle of last season with a couple other players, one from Connecticut and one from Milwaukee, involved.
Niclas Bergfors is a young player that has scored 20 goals in the NHL. The money involved was low, thereby making the risk low. If Bergfors doesn’t bring the work ethic, then he can be placed on waivers and another team will no doubt take him. David Poile’s risk vs. reward is HEAVILY in his favor on this signing.
I know everyone is up in arms about the Franson trade. How could Brian Burke fleece the Preds like this? You need to understand Nashville is not going to spend up to the cap. With Matthew Lombardi’s future in question, Nashville could not afford to pay him that salary. There was no insurance on that contract, either, because of Lombardi’s medical history with prior concussions. Nashville was losing a lot of money on him. To get rid of that albatross, something of value had to go. Unfortunately, that something was Franson. Lebda may not be a dazzling player, but he has played nearly 400 games in the NHL…many of those for the Detroit Red Wings. He has won a Stanley Cup. He’s no slouch. Robert Slaney has done little in his young professional career. I picture Slaney as this year’s Dan Gendur.
With Franson gone, the pairings might look like this: Ryan Suter-Shea Weber; Jon Blum-Kevin Klein; Francis Bouillon-Teemu Laakso; then Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Lebda and Ryan Ellis in the mix for the 7th-spot. Bouillon’s health may still be in question after the concussion he suffered last season. Josi DAZZLED at the recent prospect camp, I’m told. Apparently, he was close-to-easily the best player on the ice.
Now, keeping with the Franson trade and how this was all about freeing money: I’ve read many opine that the Preds must have something big up their sleeves to make a move like this. They do: re-signing Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. There aren’t many free agents left that will put the puck in the net. The Preds need to keep this trio together. If it gets to arbitration, Weber will be an $8 million dollar man (Zdeno Chara makes $8.5 million). Rinne will deserve a raise over his $3.4 million dollar cap hit and Suter is as valuable to his team as nearly anyone in the NHL. Look at Weber’s numbers with and without Suter playing next to him.
Also, consider the money from Lombardi’s deal COULD be used to make a Mike Fisher-like trade again this coming season and take on that bigger salary.
Financially, times are better in Nashville than they were a few years ago. Still, the team isn’t able to eat contracts and hide contracts in the minors like other teams can and do. Nashville will not spend up to the cap and it will not overspend for someone that can not perform a role it needs him to perform. They simply can’t afford it.
I like the Kyle Wilson signing. This guy has won championships in the AHL and got his first extended taste of the NHL last season. He’s also a proven scorer at this level.
I love the Zack Stortini
signing. He was a responsible player for the Admirals in the 2005-06 season when Edmonton placed him with Milwaukee after he was not being used by Dave Allison and the Iowa Stars. Stortini provided toughness and scored a couple goals in the playoffs for the Admirals. Zack has played more than 250 games in the NHL. For a fourth-liner, his +/- is pretty decent.
I’ve read a lot of people’s comments about Stortini’s fights, the hugging and the wins and losses. To me, those people are a bit ignorant. Stortini has always been a guy who stands up for his teammates. He’s always been a guy to jump in to fire the boys up. He was a three-year captain in the OHL for Sudbury. From players and coaches, I’ve never heard a negative word about him (and I hear a lot of things, trust me). He’s tremendous in the community. He’s a great teammate. Whether Zack is in Nashville or Milwaukee, his toughness will be an asset, especially since he can skate better than a lot of other guys that are asked to fill his role. I spoke with him after he was assigned from Edmonton to Oklahoma City. He was disappointed, but he was excited to have the chance to do other things on the ice like kill penalties and play a few more minutes.
If I haven’t made it clear, I’ve always liked Zack Stortini as a player and person.
We’ll have some new faces like we always do in Milwaukee, but so far things are looking alright.
I leave you with maybe the best guitar player ever, a guy I saw on the 4th
of July, Dave Alvin