We’ve now officially reached the NHL offseason after the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup by defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. Congratulations to former Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz. You won’t find a nicer man anywhere in sports.
It’s been a while since we’ve done a mailbag and there are many questions you all had about the Predators for this offseason. So let’s get to it! Thanks for your Twitter questions.
Two-parter: If the Tavares rumors have any validity to them, how do you think that impacts the likelihood of re-signing both Josi and Ellis over the next two offseasons? If you are Poile and you have to choose between the two, who do you choose? — @CptnMayhem
Let me begin by saying that I think it’s extremely unlikely that John Tavares will end up signing with the Predators. However, I’ve also learned to never count anything out when it comes to the Predators and particularly David Poile. So let’s just say there is some validity to the Tavares rumors. I think it’s going to be very difficult to re-sign both Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi at that point.
I think Tavares is going to be making at least $10 million per season with his next contract. If the Predators sign Ellis to an extension this offseason, that extension won’t kick in and count against the salary cap until the 2019-2020 season, so the Predators could conceivably keep their core intact for this season and still sign Tavares if the salary cap falls on the higher side of the estimated $78-$82 million range. They might have to make a corresponding move with another player on their roster to offload a contract, but it could be done.
After this upcoming season, I think it would get trickier. I think Ellis is going to land somewhere in the $5.5-$6.5 million per season range with his next contract. Josi’s contract is up in two years and while it’s early and a lot of things can happen between now and then, I think he will land somewhere in the $7.5-$9 million per season range with his next contract. So at that point the Predators would have Ryan Johansen making $8 million per year, Josi with a huge raise, Ellis with a huge raise, Filip Forsberg making $6 million per year, P.K. Subban making $9 million per year, Kyle Turris making $6 million per year and then Tavares making somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million per year. I’m not good at math, but that’s a lot of money.
As far as who I’d choose to sign if I had to make a choice between Ellis and Josi, I’d go with Josi. The way he can skate and recover defensively as well as pretty much being a guaranteed 50-point guy every season is just too good to let walk. That’s nothing against Ellis, who I think is extremely valuable for the Predators.
Is expecting Tolvanen to contribute anything more than 12-15 goals unrealistic? (I hope this turns into a freezing cold take) — @ImDrakeSmith
I’m not sure if I remember a Predators prospect that’s gotten more buzz than Eeli Tolvanen did last year and with good reason. He had a great season in several different levels of hockey. I do think there’s still plenty of room for improvement for Tolvanen before he’s ready to be a full-time NHL player.
Having said that, I think he can go a long way toward being ready for that this summer. I’m very interested to see what kind of development camp Tolvanen has here in a couple of weeks. As far as expectations go for Tolvanen next season, I think he’s going to be given every opportunity by Peter Laviolette to make the opening night roster out of training camp. If he’s able to do that, I wouldn’t say anything more than 12-15 goals is unrealistic. Tolvanen has a great release and has shown the ability to score goals throughout his young career.
Do I think the Predators can absolutely rely on Tolvanen to score 12-15 goals next season or perhaps even more? No, I don’t. Do I think he has the potential to eclipse that mark if he’s put in a good position to succeed and is able to figure out how to play an NHL-style game? Yes, I do.
What would you predict on a percentage of split starts next season between Rinne and Saros? — @YellsAtErrrbody
Pekka Rinne started 59 games this past season and had a Vezina Trophy-caliber year. Juuse Saros started 23 games and was quite good after his first three or four appearances. With Rinne not getting any younger and the continued progression of Saros, I would expect those starts for Rinne to continue to go down next season.
I think an ideal plan for the Predators next season would be to start Rinne somewhere in the range of 52-55 games. I don’t think it needs to be a situation where it’s a 50/50 split, but I do think continuing to take a load off of Rinne during the regular season can help him as he continues to advance in age. Not to mention the fact that Saros deserves to start more games.
Is Dante Fabbro going to break our hearts the way Jimmy Vesey did? — @JaiBubwan
That’s definitely got to be a concern for Poile given what happened with Jimmy Vesey a few years ago and him choosing to become a free agent after spending four years at Harvard. The Predators drafted Dante Fabbro in 2016 and he is expected to be heading into his junior season at Boston University in 2018-19.
I don’t think Fabbro is going to end up going the college free agent route when all is said and done. The Predators are a competitive team that has a long history of drafting and developing quality NHL defensemen. I think that’s attractive for Fabbro. Having said that, if it gets to this time next year and Fabbro still hasn’t signed with the Predators, I think it’s time for Poile and the Predators to get nervous and start looking around to see what you could get for him.
I wouldn’t expect Poile to be burned by a Vesey-type situation again.
Who do you think would be the Nashville version of Ovi going around and being wild with the Cup after winning it? I’m thinking P.K. is the obvious answer — @b_hibbs
First off, I’m not sure anybody would be able to match what Alex Ovechkin has been able to do with the Cup since the Capitals won. I, for one, have enjoyed every second of it. It’s been absolutely hilarious.
As far as the Predators are concerned, I do agree that I think Subban would be the most likely candidate to have some memorable moments with the Cup in the immediate aftermath of a championship celebration. My darkhorse for that would be Pekka Rinne. It’ll be a great story if he’s able to win it and I think it’d be fun to watch. But again, I don’t think anybody is doing it like Ovechkin.