It is no secret that the Nashville Predators have arguably the best defense corps in the NHL. Headlined by Shea Weber and Roman Josi, the other two pairings consist of Barret Jackman and Seth Jones and Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. Obviously, many teams throughout the league would do anything to have that corps.
On top of that, Nashville’s defense has been relatively healthy this season. Jackman and Ellis are the only two defensemen to miss games due to injury, and both have missed only one game each.
Overall healthiness and consistency has left defenseman Victor Bartley, who played a combined 87 regular season games the previous two years, watching the Predators from the press box on most nights.
Bartley, 27, has appeared in one contest this season, a 5-4 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 20.
Given Bartley’s underwhelming playing time with the Predators, he was not at all upset when he was placed on waivers to be reassigned to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals Monday.
“You’re sitting in Nashville for 20-30 games at a time, you’re definitely not getting any better doing that,” said Bartley Saturday. “It is what it is, especially with Nashville. They have basically the best defensive corps in the NHL. You really can’t get upset at anyone for your [lack of playing time].
“Things worked out for the best coming down here, and I get to play a lot of minutes and, hopefully, fine tune things.”
The decision to play with the Admirals was not an ideal one for Bartley. Though it would be okay to play in the minors, he would rather have been moved to another NHL team — either via trade or being picked up off waivers — if it was possible.
“It was definitely something talked about for a trade,” Bartley said. “If a trade didn’t work out, waivers might be the option. [The Predators] came to me and said if you’re okay with [waivers], we’re going to do that. So, I agreed. I knew the worst case scenario was that I could come down here and play with the Admirals. It’s an opportunity to play games, and that’s all that matters.”
Bartley has played 112 career NHL games, totaling 23 points (one goal, 22 assists), a plus-2 rating, 195 hits and 165 blocked shots. With an impressive defensive stat line and only a $666,666 cap hit, it was surprising Bartley was not claimed off waivers.
A trade may be in the works, but for now, Bartley is going to have to settle for ice time in the AHL.
“Clearly, Barts would rather be in the NHL,” said Admirals head coach Dean Evason Saturday. “There’s no question about that. But he’s come back here as a professional. He hasn’t allowed being sent down to be a negative. He just wants to play hockey, and he’s doing that [here]. The more he does that, he will have better opportunity to get back up or with another team.”