Happy Canada Day!
As we head to the opening of this year's free agent period at 11 a.m. CDT this morning, the Nashville Predators are in the midst of the biggest crisis since Jim Balsillie was dispatched back to north of the border in the Summer of 2007.
This year's free agent market is one of the worst in years with few quality players and 30 teams with extra money to spend on a bloated cap. In the best of situations this would not be a free agency period conducive to the Predators style of operation. Now there is a bigger problem to consider.
What was initially poo-pooed by the team and the league as a non-issue has now turned into a full blown mess with an arbitration hearing with the NHLPA and four key young players are at risk of walking away with no compensation to the Predators.
The fact that his happened at all, regardless of wrong-doing or not, has far-reaching repercussions.
The Predators were not expected to be big players today in the free agent market. With few players and prices way to high, it is simply the "Predator way." Now, in spite of the "business as usual" mantra, even if a bargain showed up at the door they could be hesitant to make a move.
At some point, the Predators could may be forced to spend more than was necessarily to re-sign the four RFA's with the players now holding all the cards with the potential of UFA status in a sellers market. With a limited budget, extra money spent could make a difference in another free agent acquisition or a deadline deal later in the year.
Thirdly, if some or all of the four players are lost, Shea Weber will not be a happy negotiator. From the beginning, Weber has stressed that he doesn't want top dollar if the key components to the team can stay intact. If these four guys leave, part of that argument is lost.
Finally, the biggest loss of all may be the Predators' fan's confidence in the team. Fans have been very forgiving and understanding and have felt that no matter what, the Preds have always had another rabbit in the hat. This time, the Predators may be short a rabbit.
Make the jump for today's news and links...
In Pred Nation...
Ken Campbell had the first complete explanation of RFA-gate (as named by Amanda DiPaolo) and Mark Willoughby adds more detail with what the sheet actually contains.
Jim Diamond has all the details on the J. P. Dumont buy out by the Predators. He also opines that the next six weeks will be the most important ones in David Poile's career.
Josh Cooper discusses the Predators' ability to sign Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne at ESPN Insider. He also had a chat with Shane O'Brien who really enjoyed his year in Nashville. This morning Cooper indicates that it will be business ans usual for the Predators in spite of the RFA situation.
Amanda DiPaolo wonders if the Predators will be recognizable in October.
Smashville 24/7 indicates that Barry Trotz is optimistic about Chet Pickard in spite of his poor numbers last season. They also have a post on the math behind J.P. Dumont's buy out. Ryan did his summary of the Poile presser that did not address the key concern.
Marc Torrence has a report on Poile's presser as well as a link to the complete audio. He also has an audio with Magnus Hellberg from his scrum.
Dirk Hoag is still double-timing with another set of afternoon links that includes a link to a Matthew Lombardi interview from Montreal. This morning, he has a free agency preview for the Predators.
Robby at HNIN takes a look at what to expect today.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly My View and i'm disappointed that he did not get into the new Tennessee law on "emotional distress." He also has a nice good-bye piece to Nashville's sweetheart, Christine Madella.
Jas Faulkner files her report on yesterday's activities at Centennial Sportsplex.
Maple Ridge News has a feature on Victor Bartley.
DurhamRegion.com has a feature on Josh Shalla.
The Predators have inked a deal with a new mobile marketing partner according to the Nashville Post.
Seems like a bit of an afterthought, but you can vote on the best NHL sweaters in the Southeast area at Icethetics.
Sad to hear of the layoffs at The Tennessean including Bryan Mullen and Joe Biddle from the sports department.
Best wishes to the Predators Interactive Marketing Coordinator Eric Shuff who will be taking a new position after Development Camp is over on Sunday. Best of luck! We'll see you around the rink.
Around the NHL...
Eight months ago James Wisniewski got suspended for this bit of acting and now he is the Globe and Mail's number two free agent in their top ten. That should show what a weak class this is.
Nick Cotsonika says that it is buyer beware in this year's free agent market.
A signing I don't get is Christian Ehrhoff for 10 years and $40 million. $4 million a year ($10 mil this year) is high but who would do a ten year deal.
If you read Czech, go hear to read that 12 teams have made offers to Jaromir Jagr. In English here is a similar story. We have heard it several times, but Rob Rossi says Jagr's decision will come today.
Kevin Allen has a running list of yesterday's moves.
RLD Hockey has bold Free Agent predictions. We'll know soon how it plays out for some.
Puck Daddy looks at various Steven Stamkos scenarios and points out that NHL 12 may be getting antsy.
Could Joel Ward be headed to the Vancouver Canucks?
When the free agent frenzy starts this morning Brian Burke will be around the world in Afghanistan with Canadian servicemen.
Copper and Blue compares the numbers of players drafted from each country last weekend to IIHF's national rankings.
The Colorado Avalanche will retire Peter Forsberg's number in ceremonies during the coming season.
Good guy Robyn Regehr made a video to say hello to the Sabre fans.
Odds and Ends...
Here's a story telling us what we already knew, that In-N-Out has the best burger.
Here is an interesting story of how Barnes and Noble has managed to stay afloat in a tough market for bricks and mortar bookstores.
Skype with video for Android is available for some phones now.
If you are traveling abroad, standard US credit cards may not work as they have been replace by chip cards in 130 countries.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass