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Coach Brouwer: This was supposed to be the Nashville Predators year to win it all, but unfortunately they couldn’t solve the Phoenix Coyotes. It is going to be an extremely busy offseason in Nashville as they have just eight forwards under contract going into next year. They need to sign an entire second line and another forward. They also need to either re-sign Andres Lindback or another backup goalie. Finally they only have three defensemen under contract, two of which were rookies (Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi) last season. This will be the most important off-season in their franchise history. Do they try to re-sign both Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and have little cap space left over to sign the rest of the roster or let one go? Nashville is at their best when they have a strong goalie, elite defensemen and average forwards, so I can see them throwing enormous amounts money at Weber and Suter to get both to re-sign. I think if either leaves it won’t be for money but rather believing they have a better chance to win somewhere else. Nashville will find a way to have both back in the mustard yellow jerseys next season.
Coach Perry: I think they are able to retain both. They have the inside edge, they have committed to winning and they have the cap space to make it happen. I do believe both players enjoy playing in Nashville and know how close they are to reaching the next level. The team will have $32 million to spread over about 10 spots. Even if forced to offer “max deals” to both defensemen they would have $16-$18 million left for 8 players or $2.5 million per player. Despite not having a first rounder, they could make some noise on the trade front with options like Jon Blum, Ryan Ellis or Roman Josi to dangle as trade bait. The Predators could be in the running for Rick Nash or another big time forward if one hits the market. However, I think they would still be missing the true number one center that it takes to win a Stanley Cup. Unless they obtain one of via trade, I anticipate another playoff exit before this team reaches the Stanley Cup finals in 2013.
The other interesting thing could be if they decide to keep just one of these players. If they decide to go with just Suter, along with their prospects, Shea Weber could net them a fortune in a sign-and-trade before July 1. Would Edmonton give up number one overall this year, a second rounder next year, Magnus Paajarvi, and/or Ales Hemsky? Perhaps, and given his current stock that may not even be the best deal they get. However, I think it comes down to how much they like their prospects.
Coach Harling: Yes. The Predators have the green light from ownership to spend to the cap and compete financially with the likes of Detroit and Chicago. The management has shown quite clearly they are committed to winning by signing Pekka Rinne to a seven year $49 million deal, and acquiring players such as Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad, Hal Gill and Alex Radulov to load up for a Cup run. While the team failed to achieve significant success in the playoffs I believe the team has demonstrated to both Suter and Weber they are serious about winning now. Money will not be a problem, so I expect Nashville to be able to sign both players to similar contracts as Rinne received.