As signings and trades are starting to settle down around the NHL, the focus is onto the Free Agent Market. There is not to much available, plain and simple. The Nashville Predators are still in need of a top six forward and a Ryan Suter replacement at defense. Both of those needs haven't been met yet, and time is ticking.
Getting a replacement for Ryan Suter is at the top of David Poile's list, right now. Or at least it should be. Currently, the Predators are very young and don't have skilled depth.
Roman Josi is the leading candidate to replace Suter and be paired with newly re-signed captain, Shea Weber. Head coach Barry Trotz is very high on Josi. He played very well in the playoffs as a composed rookie defenseman who has never experienced it before. Josi is an all-around defenseman that could become the next big thing in the organization.
However, Josi can not fall into the same sophomore slump as Jonathan Blum did last season. Blum spent most of the season with the Milwaukee Admirals, in the AHL, due to his lack of performance. Being paired with Weber will help Josi in his development.
Mattias Ekholm is another defenseman that could pan out into something special, in due time. At 22 years old, Ekholm will try to make the team at the start of the season. At the start of last season, he was playing his best hockey and was in Trotz's dog house. Ekholm was sent to Sweden to play with a club in the SEL (Swedish Elite League).
This season, Ekholm should more mature in the way of he plays. The Predators and Poile are expecting big things from him this upcoming season.
21 year old phenom, Ryan Ellis has won everything a defenseman can win in the Ontario Hockey League two seasons ago. Last season, Ellis was sent to play with the big boys in the AHL, then soon enough, the NHL when the Predators needed him. Ellis needs to start using the skill and will from the OHL and put it into the NHL. He will be a big part of this upcoming season on the power play and in specialty situations.
The Nashville Predators have four defenseman on the roster that will be between the ages of 21-23 years old, while they also have three other defenseman (Weber, Klein and Gill) who are the veterans at defense with the ages of 26, Weber; 27, Klein; and 37, Gill. There is a lack of veterans on the team right now, no question. The Predators need that one extr veteran defenseman to add depth.
As stated earlier, there are not to many options out there for Nashville. There are three defenseman the Predators have to look into signing. They are Scott Hannan, Michal Roszival and Carlo Colaiacovo. All three of them have been in the NHL for a while and are a stable option. Plus, they can play the much needed, 20 minutes a night. Don't expect any more than a one-year deal with either of them.
Michal Roszival makes the most sense for the Predators because he played in almost the exact same system with the Phoenix Coyotes. At 33 years old, he is aging and won't be able to play all 82 games. Last season he only played 54. Roszival will not be a scorer, but rather a third line depth defenseman.
Many Preds fans are familiar with Scott Hannan because of the two times the Predators played the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs in 2006 and 2007 seasons. Hannan played 78 games with the Calgary Flames. Out of the UFA defenseman, Hannan has the highest "Time On Ice" average. Signing Hannan is not a bad signing and, as a plus, is used to the West Coast teams more than the rest of the current Predators roster.
Carlo Colaiacovo is another defenseman that Predators fans are familar with because he plays with the Central Division rival, St. Louis Blues. Signing Colaiacovo is a huge risk due to his injury history. However, he is at the prime of his career and needs to prove to other teams in the NHL that he is worth something.
The Predators should not sign Colaiacovo, unless he is their last option in adding depth. He is a high risk-low reward player.
There is no question the Nashville Predators have to add depth at defense. Those three players are capable third line defenseman. It will be interesting to see what David Poile's camp will do to get that Suter replacement. Trade or signing? Trade would be the best option because in return will be a better player.