In this edition of Nashville Predators News & Rumors, we will analyze Elliotte Friedman’s comments about general manager David Poile changing up the lineup and being “open for business” this offseason. We are also going to look at his comments regarding defenseman Mattias Ekholm and a possible deal. Finally, we are going to look at the talk swirling around one of the best contributors in the Predators forward lineup this season, Calle Jarnkrok.
Predators Are Open for Business
On the local sports radio show “Darren, Daunic, and Chase” on 102.5 The Game, Elliotte Friedman made a special guest appearance. On the show, the hosts brought up the interview with Poile and asked Elliotte if he had listened to it. He said he did and then went on and talked about what we already knew.
I think we’ve known since before the trade deadline and again now that David Poile and the Nashville Predators are open for business.Elliotte Friedman on Darren, Daunic, and Chase, 102.5 The Game Nashville, June 9th, 2021
Friedman went on to say that he thinks everyone, including the front office, feels like last season wasn’t what they wanted in terms of results and that they can’t come back with the same core that they’ve had. He doesn’t believe that Poile is done making moves.
Some may be puzzled by this for a few reasons, but I’m willing to speculate that the moves are nothing significant regarding the returns and more of rearranging the talent to make room for others to come in and get a chance to play. A player like Philip Tomasino comes to mind, who should be getting an elevated opportunity to go in and grab a roster spot. Other players like Tanner Jeannot, who came in and proved himself to the Nashville fans and coaching staff after a slew of injuries hit the team, should get a full-time roster spot but won’t if players aren’t moved out. Being open for business is the right move this offseason, even if it means moving out some core pieces.
Ekholm Contract Talks
Another talking point that Friedman mentioned on the show was Ekholm and a possible return to Nashville. This upcoming season is his last at $3.75 million, which means an upgrade in pay is inevitable. He does believe that Poile wants to bring him back, and it’s probably for the best. Ekholm has been a key yet underrated contributor to the Predators blue line ever since P.K. Subban came into the fray.
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As far as the projected contract goes, Friedman couldn’t project due to some technicalities and not having done as much research as possible on the situation. However, he did pose some interesting questions. Ekholm has been willing to take a pay cut, and his most recent contract was a steal by all accounts. However, one thought that Elliotte mentioned was, “does [Ekholm] still feel that way?” The obvious answer is: who knows? However, it is something to consider. He has been underrated for so long, and it’s entirely feasible (and understandable) if Ekholm wants a significant pay raise. He has arguably been the second-best defenseman on the team for the last three seasons, but his value won’t be as high with little media recognition.
The only thing Friedman was willing to say about the contract situation was how much term Ekholm could get on the open market and how that could translate to average annual value. “None of this is based on any inside information,” he stressed, “but if it’s three years, I bet you that number is higher than 5.5 [million], or else he’s really doing you a favor.” I’d have to believe him there as well. It’s hard to picture someone who already took a pay cut taking another one for a shorter-term deal. Anything is possible in contract negotiations, but bringing back Ekholm should be one of the highest items on Poile’s to-do list this offseason, and if that means giving him a significantly larger amount of money, so be it.
Calle Jarnkrok’s Name Is Flying Around
As reported by The Fourth Period, there has been some interest in Jarnkrok. He has been thrown around in rumors since the trade deadline after the horrendous start to the season, and clearly, there is still interest in him. He’s on a very team-friendly contract with only a year left, making a commitment from any team minimal. If they aren’t impressed by his play, they can let him go. Some of the teams that appear to be interested in him are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins.
All of those teams could use an extremely cheap and young depth option to assist their Stanley Cup aspirations, or in Tampa’s case, their three-peat aspirations. The Leafs have been swirling around the Predators for a few months, looking into both Ekholm and prized forward Filip Forsberg. Edmonton, who recently acquired Duncan Keith from the Chicago Blackhawks, has been looking for a strong depth forward option to lighten the load on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Finally, Nashville’s opponent in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been searching for another depth forward option for some time now as well. Both Tampa and Pittsburgh could be losing a key forward piece in the upcoming expansion draft, making a player like Jarnkrok the perfect replacement.
Jarnkrok was the third-highest scorer on the team in the 2020-21 season with 28 points. At times he looked like an excellent first-line contributor, and at others, he was barely noticeable. A lot of his production depends on his linemates, and the common denominator with those teams – except Edmonton for the time being, considering two players can’t carry a team to a championship in the NHL – are Cup contenders with great players on every line. There would be no shortage of depth talent if one of them were to pick up the 29-year-old Swede, and it wouldn’t take too much of a toll on the cap hit either. There could be more regarding Jarnkrok’s future in Nashville very soon, so expect more as the weeks move along and significant events come and go.
Jeff is a consistent source for Predators content here at The Hockey Writers. He enjoys watching all sorts of hockey from juniors to the pros, and playing hockey for his high school and local teams in Nashville. He’s a big proponent of hockey analytics, and you’ll often see him using lots of statistics and data to back up his main talking points. You can find his work here, or check out his contributions on his own Substack, or at Last Word on Hockey and On the Forecheck. Lastly, you can listen to him on the Youth Movement Podcast presented by On the Forecheck or the Triple Shift Podcast. For any inquiries about interviews or questions about statistics, analytics, or just general hockey opinions you can message his twitter, @jjmid04.