In this edition of Nashville Predators News & Rumors, the staple of Predators hockey, Pekka Rinne, took home the King Clancy Award for leadership on and off the ice. We also take a look at a possible pick for the Predators at 18, according to Corey Pronman of The Athletic, and some interesting situations for Mikael Granlund, who general manager David Poile could re-sign later this offseason.
Pekka Rinne Wins King Clancy
The goalie that epitomizes everything about Nashville hockey, Rinne took home one of the lesser-known but all-important trophies before the start of Game 1 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens. The King Clancy Award, according to NHL.com, is given “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Without a doubt, Rinne is the perfect example of this. His contributions cannot be understated.
Rinne and former Predators captain Shea Weber formed the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which has been helping people for well over half a decade. Not only that, but he also helped small businesses and their employees continue to have wages during this crazy Coronavirus pandemic and helps with the Best Buddies program. Per Rinne, his best friend Mark Maguire, who he met with through the program, is one reason he serves the community and loves doing it. There’s so much that the goaltender does for the Predators that it’s about time he is recognized for it on a national stage. His service will be helping people throughout the community even when he isn’t on the ice night in and night out.
Cole Sillinger at 18
Corey Pronman of The Athletic released his rankings of the top 151 prospects for this year’s draft. I wrote an article about three possible players that the Predators could choose at the number 18 spot, but Cole Sillinger wasn’t one of them. Here is Pronman’s analysis:
“Sillinger is a smart player who can make seam passes consistently and make creative plays due to his great hands and offensive IQ. He can play on the perimeter due to his vision and a great one-timer/wrist shot combo, which he gets off with velocity and accuracy. He can also play inside. He wins battles, gets to the net, is reliable defensively and doesn’t shy from playing physically. His skating is an area of concern, with a heavy stride. He likely won’t be able to drive entries at the top level. In a sentence, Sillinger projects as a top-six NHL forward, whether at center or the wing, who will bring scoring and physicality elements to a lineup.”Corey Pronman, June 15, 2021 (from The Athletic “Top 151 Prospects for 2021 NHL Draft: Owen Power leads Corey Pronman’s final rankings”)
Pronman’s comments are pretty accurate. Sillinger in the USHL put up 46 points in 31 games with 24 total goals. His ability to drive the offense and create plays for both his teammates and himself is among the top of his class. The one pitfall of his game is his skating, and that could be very troublesome for a few general managers looking to pick a player of his caliber up. His stock did fall a lot due to the shortened season last year and the idea that the USHL did hurt his draft stock a bit due to competition concerns. However, it does give the Predators an option at the 18th spot to pick him up. He might be exactly what they need as well.
If Sillinger is available at that spot, it would be interesting to see if Poile snatches him up. He is an excellent all-around player and could boost the team’s top six in the future. A head coach like Karl Taylor in Milwaukee could get the best out of him, considering his philosophies and where Sillinger’s playstyle aligns within them. Either way, fans can add him to the list of prospects to watch out for at the 18th spot.
One of the narratives going into this offseason is who should the team bring back and who should be let go? Granlund is at the forefront of these discussions, as the Predators brass has refused to trade him for other assets at two consecutive trade deadlines. We saw Craig Smith walk to the Boston Bruins last offseason after Nashville didn’t re-sign or trade him for any assets, and obviously, fans don’t want to see another player leave.
So what is the most likely scenario? Poile has said he would love to sign Granlund to an extension, so we may see more of him. However, with that extension comes risks. Evolving-Hockey’s contract projection has him at $5.036 million for three years. With $17 million in cap space this coming offseason, that number could get the job done and be suitable for both fans, the player, and his representation. Somewhere within the $4-5 million range should be perfectly acceptable.
Out of all the free agents that the Predators have to talk to this offseason, Granlund is the one most people would be happy to see brought back. He’s a highly-skilled winger that proved to be a force on the offensive end of the ice with Calle Jarnkrok and Luke Kunin. If Poile wants to bring in a young guy like Philip Tomasino to play with him, it could prove to be very helpful to the youngster’s development. Granlund will most likely be re-signed after the expansion draft, so talks about him will begin to accelerate as the weeks go by and the playoffs come to a close.