The summer is quickly approaching for incoming Nashville Predators’ general manager Barry Trotz. And while the NHL Draft and how to allot his 13 draft picks should be a top priority for Trotz, there are other pressing matters to attend to.
For example, how does he approach the team’s pending restricted free agents?
Qualifying offers, according to the CBA, are due this year on July 3rd, which is the Monday after the NHL Draft. Clubs must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents by that date or those players will become unrestricted free agents (i.e., they are free to sign with any other team).
Here’s a look at six of the Nashville Predators’ pending restricted free agents and how Barry Trotz should handle them. (quick note: I’m only looking at the six RFAs that saw NHL time last season. There are a few RFA’s in the AHL that I will skip for now)
High priority – Get a deal done now!
Cody Glass– minimum qualifying offer $874,125
None of the RFAs listed below should be as big of a priority as Cody Glass. He took huge steps forward in his development last year and shows sign of being a solid 2nd line center. His passing and vision are his strengths and his work in the defensive zone kept him on the ice in crucial situations. His chemistry with Filip Forsberg showed a lot of promise as well. That’s a pair worth keeping together.
Glass scored 14 goals and had 21 assists in 72 games last year. His 35 points ranked 6th on a Preds team that really struggled to put up offense, but his six power play goals were 2nd on the team behind Roman Josi’s eight. He’s a versatile, skilled forward that the Predators desperately need in their system right now.
A qualifying offer is a given, but the Predators need to sign him beyond that. There’s not much room for a bridge deal (Glass, who is 24 years old, will become a UFA by age 27) so we are probably looking at either a one- or two-year “prove it” deal in the $3 and $4 million range. Or possibly the Preds offer up a long term deal like they did with Calle Jarnkrok back in 2016 (six years at a $2 million AAV).
Jake Livingstone – minimum qualifying offer $830,000
I was very impressed with Livingstone’s first five games in the NHL. Yes, sample size is very small, but he looked like he belonged almost instantly. He’s a good skater with offensive spark and a good sense of timing.
What else do we need to see from Livingstone? Well, a lot. He’s 24 years old and with such little experience, we still don’t know what kind of player he will be. But the upside is so high that the Preds should consider giving him a multi-year deal. Especially because the Alex Carrier situation is a little complicated (see below).
Nothing crazy, but a two-year deal with an AAV between $850,000 and $900,000 would make sense for Jake Livingstone.
Medium Priority – Qualify, but no rush
Rasmus Asplund – minimum qualifying offer $875,000
I’m not sure what the Preds have in Asplund. At times, he seemed like a good defensive plug-in. At other times, he completely disappeared while on the ice. He has almost no offensive bite (career 0.27 points per game, career 7.1% shooter) but he’s smart and aggressive in the defensive zone. A truly one-side-of-the-ice player.
Qualify him at the minimum, but don’t rush to get this guy locked up. A good, not great piece that can fill in gaps on the defensive end next year.
Alex Carrier – minimum qualifying offer $750,000
This is a unique situation for both parties.
Carrier outperformed his last contract, which was a three-year, $2.2 million deal signed in April 2020. But it wasn’t a consistent outperformance, if that makes sense. By the end of 2021 and for much of the 2021-22 season, he was really making a name for himself on the Preds’ blueline. He was out maneuvering his defensive cohort Dante Fabbro for that final top four spot and looked like he would be the option moving forward.
Then injuries completely derailed all of that. At least one concussion in December 2022, perhaps another one in January, and then a massive shoulder injury at the end of last year.
Then Dante Fabbro gets signed for the 2023-24 season (after considerable efforts to trade him) and now… where does Alex Carrier fit in?
He will be qualified at $750,000, there’s no question about that. But the Predators are not likely to go beyond one-year, given the injury history. He might be a good candidate for player-led arbitration. He probably is worth more than $750,000 (maybe much more?) but it’s hard to put a number on it.
Low Priority – Let him walk?
John Leonard – minimum qualifying offer $750,000
Leonard was a pinch hitter for the Preds last year, playing in only six games and just under 70 minutes total. He came over in the Luke Kunin trade with San Jose last summer in a combined “salary dump” (Kunin’s qualifying offer was higher than the Preds wanted to pay) and AHL add. He’s been a solid forward for the Admirals this season, but has played only sparingly in their playoff run this spring.
Qualify him, maybe, but he’s not a big priority right now. (Unless they draft his brother!)
Cal Foote – minimum qualifying offer $950,000
Sending Tanner Jeannot to Tampa for a massive horde of draft picks and Cal Foote was a great deal for Nashville. But, sadly, Cal Foote wasn’t the reason why.
In 24 games with the Preds, he looked quite over matched in the defensive zone. Turnovers, rushed decisions, and way too many penalties. His skating speed is just… not good enough for the NHL. I’m not even sure he would make sense for the Milwaukee Admirals next year.
And at $950,000? The Preds should consider walking away from Foote.
As of now, Foote might be the 9th defenseman on the team, behind Josi, McDonagh, Barrie, Fabbro, Lauzon, Carrier, Livingstone, and then Spencer Stastney, who showed he’s more than ready for the NHL.
Just doesn’t make sense.
Let Cal Foote walk to free agency and spend that money somewhere else.
— Sources: Cap Friendly, Hockey Reference —