The Nashville Predators have reached the disappointing conclusion of what was an extremely exciting National Hockey League season for that market, a season that had many believing that the Predators were destined to win the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately despite a dominant performance across the NHL regular season the Predators fell well short of their bid for a championship when they lost to the Winnipeg Jets in the second round of the playoffs and now they must look towards the future and the 2018-2019 regular season.
The Predators will have plenty of time this summer to make moves either through the draft, trades, or free agency and we will have to wait and see when it comes to those potential moves from Nashville general manager David Poile. Despite that we can already conclude that there will be at least two new faces on the Predators roster come next season, as on Monday the Predators revealed that they were cutting ties with two of their veteran players, letting them walk away in free agency.
According to a report from Predators insider Adam Vingan of the Tennesean, the Predators have informed both veteran defenseman Alexei Emelin and veteran forward Scott Hartnell that they will not be offered new deals despite their performances this season. The decision to move on from Emelin is arguably the least surprising of the two moves, he was brought in largely as a result of the injury suffered by Ryan Ellis and with Ellis now healthy and ready to go the need for Emelin has effectively evaporated.
Hartnell on the other hand though was very much a heart and soul type of guy for the Predators in the playoffs and you can certainly make the argument that the Jets would have made very short work of the Predators had Peter Laviolette not made the decision to put Hartnell into the line up in the second round. It's true that Hartnell is an aging player and his best years are almost certainly behind him, but the Predators got him for $1 million on a one year deal this season, and you'd be hard press to argue his performance in the post season didn't warrant that kind of money.
To be completely fair here though Hartnell himself admitted earlier today that he was going to give some serious thought to retiring from the National Hockey League earlier today.
"I'll take some time away to think about it," Hartnell said. "These last couple months, just wondering if I still have it, if I could still skate. I thought I played pretty solid, but your heart's got to be there too with it, and that passion. I feel like it's there."
Predators general manager David Poile has made it clear in recent years that he believes the window for this current roster to win a championship is now, and he stated today that he expects the majority of his guys will be back with the organization for next season. The one big question that will remain for this team now will be regarding the potential contract extension for defenseman Ryan Ellis, a player that will enter next season in the final year of his deal should the Preds fail to re-sign him this summer.
Photo Credit: Steve Roberts/CSM/Zuma