Sunday morning, the Nashville Predators played their first move of going “all-in” for the Stanley Cup this season by acquiring Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli from the Toronto Maple Leafs. If those names sound familiar to Predators fans, it’s because both were originally drafted by Nashville.
In return, the Predators sent their 2015 first round draft pick, Olli Jokinen and prospect Brendan Leipsic. While losing a prospect in Leipsic, Nashville is still fairly deep in the prospect pool in Milwaukee and around the world. The 2015 draft is generational, but due to the Predators’ positioning, the pick would be late. Let’s also not forget that General Manager David Poile could also trade up or for other picks while at the draft.
From 2009-2011, Franson played 141 games and totaled 50 points (14G-36A). He also played in 16 playoff games during his previous stint. Santorelli, on the other hand, only played 32 games with the Predators before starting his journey by playing time with the Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and lately, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Both Franson and Santorelli are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. Will either one re-sign in Nashville, or will both just be rentals? The return in this trade will be determined on where the Predators finish this season.
For Toronto, the trade confirms the rebuild is in the works. They receive a first round pick and, while low, it will still get them a good prospect as this draft will produce multiple NHLers even in the late rounds. Olli Jokinen will bring them veteran presence to get through the season.
Brendan Leipsic will help the team in the very near future. The young forward was an offensive nightmare to teams in the Western Hockey League when he was with the Portland Winterhawks. In his last two junior season, Leipsic tallied 211 points (88G-123A) in 128 games. This season in Milwaukee with the Admirals, Leipsic has 35 points (7G-28A) in 47 games and was named to the AHL All Star Game in January. Leipsic also recently joined us on Penalty Box Radio.
The full press release from the Nashville Predators below:
Nashville, Tenn. (February 15, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the team has acquired defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Nashville’s first-round selection in the 2015 Draft, and forwards Brendan Leipsic and Olli Jokinen.
“In preparation for the 2015 playoff run, our goal was to add a veteran defenseman who could play in all situations and a proven forward who could move up and down lineup based on the situation,” Poile said. “We were fortunate to do this in the same transaction with players who are in the prime of their careers more than two weeks before the Trade Deadline in order to give them more time to contribute and gel with their teammates.”
“Both Cody and Mike were drafted, developed and began their NHL careers here. They know our organization and still have former teammates and friends on the roster. We are fully confident that they will seamlessly fit into our team.”
Franson, 27 (8/8/87), was selected by the Predators 78th overall (third round) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and was a member of the 2010-11 Nashville club along with current Preds Shea Weber, Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher and Pekka Rinne, that won the first playoff series in franchise history. Hailing from the same hometown as Weber – Sicamous, British Columbia – Franson has amassed 32 points (6g-26a) in 55 games this season for the Maple Leafs, and 165 points (34g-131a) in 377 career NHL games. From 2007-09, he played with Nashville’s primary developmental affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, and from 2009-11, he posted 50 points (14g-36a) in 141 regular-season games and seven points (1g-6a) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Predators.
“Cody brings size, offensive ability and the capacity to play in all situations to our lineup,” Poile said. “He is the perfect component to round out our defensive corps and give us eight proven NHL defensemen.”
Santorelli, 29 (12/14/85), was selected 178th overall (sixth round) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, 80 picks and two rounds before the Predators selected Rinne. The 6-0, 190-pound forward posted a 20-goal, 41-point season with the Florida Panthers in 2010-11, and has 29 points (11g-18a) and a +7 rating in 57 games for Toronto in 2014-15. In 314 career NHL games, the Vancouver native has 116 points (54g-62a). Santorelli posted three points (2g-1a) in 32 games with the Predators from 2008-10, in addition to amassing 74 goals and 171 points in 207 AHL games with the Milwaukee Admirals from 2007-10.
“Mike is a versatile player that can move up and down the lineup based on the situation,” Poile said. “He has fantastic speed, is excellent in the face-off circle, and can play all three forward positions if called upon. He is an excellent complement to our existing group of forwards.”