Barry Trotz began his tenure as Nashville Predators general manager by making a statement.
“That wasn’t my intention to put my stamp on it,” Trotz said. “My intention was to make this team real good, and for a long time. I don’t want you to come to Nashville to retire, I want you to come to Nashville to win.”
Nashville re-signed a few of its own in Cody Glass, Alex Carrier and Anthony Angello, and brought back another familiar face in goaltender Troy Groesnick, who agreed to a one-year, two-way deal to back up Yaroslav Askarov in Milwaukee.
Glass (two years) and Carrier (one year) each have an average annual salary of $2.5 million. Glass will be a restricted free agent by the end of his deal while Carrier will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of his.
Trotz also added three new faces to the team on Saturday during the opening of NHL free agency including forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist plus defenseman Luke Schenn. He heralded O’Reilly, who’s won a Stanley Cup, a Con Smythe Trophy, a Selke Trophy, and has three All-Star game appearances, as a player to set an example for the rest of the locker room.
“I wanted to allow a path for our young guys to develop and be surrounded by those types of players,” Trotz said.
Duchene signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the central division rival Dallas Stars, where he’ll join former Predator Craig Smith, who agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract on Saturday.
“The harsh reality is we moved two very good players out,” Trotz said. “They weren’t going to fit in our age group when we feel that we’re going to bust out, but I wanted that change as well.
”Both of them have been high contributors to the Predators organization — not only on the ice but off the ice — and I wish them great success just not too much against us. They will always be Predators. They’re good good people.”
Here’s a further look at Nashville’s signings:
Ryan O’Reilly, four years, $18 million
A former captain of the St. Louis Blues, O’Reilly is a player who Trotz said reminds him of Joe Pavelski, a “serial winner” that he was looking for.
“A guy that continues to produce, people follow him, and everybody around him is better,” Trotz said. “That was for me, our young guys, and our culture. That was critical.”
To Trotz, he wanted someone who loves to compete and has had an accomplished career. O’Reilly has been part of deep playoff runs and led a team through the peaks and valleys of a Stanley Cup championship.
“What I’m really exicited about is he’s a guy that can really leave a mark on an organization in a positive way and what better way to come in to a situation with lots of young kids,” Trotz said.
Luke Schenn, three years, $8.25 million
Schenn is a familiar face for Trotz, who he faced as head coach of the New York Islanders in the 2020 bubble when Schenn and new Preds teammate Ryan McDonagh were both members of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We were a physical team,” Trotz said. “We were the that got under Tampa’s skin. We were pushing some of their key guys out of the series and gaining momentum, but Luke was the guy that recognized that and to me changed the whole series.”
Trotz noted that Schenn has skated with defensemen like Quinn Hughes, Morgan Reilly, and now Roman Josi.
“I don’t like when sometimes Roman takes some big hits. Luke will make sure that those big hits won’t be coming too often,” Trotz. “This is a guy that gets it culturally and he gets it as a teammate, and he gets it as a person in the community.”
Gustav Nyquist, two years, $6.37 million
The 33-year-old forward scored 27 points in 51 games between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild last season. Now, he can slot in between a younger center like Glass and play for an aggressive, offensive-minded head coach like Andrew Brunette.
“This guy is a good player and a good teammate,” Trotz said. “Gus will be a good compliment to a guy like Glass, who needs a winger with a little more experience that can help him continue to grow.”
Cody Glass, two years, $5 million
Trotz said he was exicted to have Glass back on a new contract with the Predators. He just completed his first full season in the NHL, posting 35 points in 72 games.
“Cody continued to grow,” Trotz said. “He had to step up and I think his confidence grew. I think he was relied on in more situations.”
Glass was taken sixth overall in the 2017 draft by the Vegas Golden Knights, and now has seen significant minutes in the NHL with Nashville as a 24-year-old. After his time in Vegas, he was acquired via trade and Trotz said he was ‘a little bit of a broken player’ in terms of his development.
“He had some growth moments this year,” he added. “At the end of the year, he got the call from team Canada for the World Championships, they won a gold medal, so there are those growth moments you want a player to play in meaningful games and have an impact and he started to that for us.”
Alex Carrier, one year, $2.5 Million
After missing 39 games this season, the Predators kept Carrier around to bolster its depth on the blue line. He showcased his offensive upside during the 2021-22 campaign, scoring 30 points.
“I love Alex,” Trotz said. “What a wonderful young man and I remember his first year — I always watched from afar in a different organization — I saw him playing and I liked what I saw from him.”
This season, Trotz is going to analyze Carrier’s play and make more of an assessment based on how he plays and determine if he fits in the team’s long-term plans.
“If we can get the best out of Alex — and I think knowing Alex and his competitiveness and all that — he’ll have a terrific year,” he said.
Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter: @KieserNick
(Photo via John Russell/Nashville Predators)