Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Will the Predators Do With An Abundance of Defensemen?

After a long summer of speculation about difficult contract negotiations with defenseman Cody Franson, Josh Cooper at the Tennessean broke the news of a new two year contract over Twitter this morning.

The contract is a one-way, two-year deal for $1.6 million dollars. There had been speculation as to whether the Predators had wanted a two-way contract since there is a large contingent of blueliners fighting for the probable seven slots that the Predators normally carry.

Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Francis Bouillon and Kevin Klein appear to be locked into the top four slots on the back end. Alexander Sulzer and Ryan Parent are also on one-way deals and will be competing for ice time with Franson.

The big question in the upcoming training camp will be if one or more of several top defensive prospects will move ahead of the perceived top seven and send a veteran player to Milwaukee or elsewhere via waivers or a trade.

Jon Blum and Teemu Laasko are both experienced in the AHL and want to make a move to Nashville. Ryan Ellis is destined to remain in the CHL for another year if he can't make the jump to Nashville out of camp. Roman Josi is set to play his first season in North America after an outstanding international career in Europe playing in Switzerland.

Even if none of these four players stay with the Preds when camp breaks, you would expect to at least see Blum and Laasko as the first call-ups when injuries occur.

A real wild card would be if Ryan Ellis played well enough in camp to force the Preds to make the tough decision to keep him in Nashville for up to nine games of the regular season after which his entry level contract would kick in.

With seven players looking to fill four slots, something will have to give. Keep an eye out at camp for the fierce competition.

Here is the Press Release from the Predators...


Nashville, Tenn. (September 8, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Cody Franson to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

Franson, 23 (8/8/87) posted 21 points (6g-15a) in 61 contests for the Predators a season ago, becoming just the second rookie defenseman in franchise history to hit the 20-point mark (Dan Hamhuis, 2003-04), tying for fourth among first-year blueliners in points, and ranking third in goals. The 6-5, 213-pound native of Sicamous, B.C., also led all rookies and ranked second on the team in plus/minus rating (+15), and paced all rookie defensemen in game-winning goals (3) in 2009-10. Franson played in four of Nashville’s six postseason games this past spring, notching his first career playoff point/assist in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Chicago.

Nashville's third choice, 79th overall (third round), in the 2005 Entry Draft spent two seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals before moving onto Nashville, being named a Second-Team AHL All-Star in 2008-09 and to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2007-08. Franson capped his amateur career by winning the 2007 Memorial Cup with the Vancouver Giants (WHL), being named to the tournament’s all-star team, and a gold medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships. He also appeared in the 2006 Memorial Cup, leading all defensemen in scoring in both that tournament and the WHL Playoffs.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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