After 25 seasons of being at the helm of the Nashville Predators David Poile decided to retire from his general manager position in July.
During his time in Nashville Poile made quite a few splashes via trade, the draft and free agency. But what were some of his biggest mistakes free-agent mistakes?
Below are the top five Predators worst free-agent signings from Poile’s tenure:
No. 5 – Anton Volchenkov, D
The Russian bruiser wasn’t known for his offensive prowess whenever he jumped up on the blue-line. In his 46 games as a Predator, Volchenkov had 93 hits and only seven assists.
Poile signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year, $1 million deal in 2014 after he was bought out by the New Jersey Devils one month before free agency. His buyout lasted until the end of the 2017-18 season, and New Jersey paid him $1,416,667 annually.
His biggest highlight as a member of the organization wasn’t a glowing one as he was suspended four games for an illegal check to the head of Michael Ferland. After his time in Nashville, he never saw NHL ice again.
No. 4 – Francis Bouillon, D
After a roster spot opened up on defense, Poile went back to a player he was familiar with — one who skated in four games for Nashville during the 2002-03 season.
Bouillon initially signed a one-year deal to rejoin the Predators in 2009, then after skating in 81 games, Poile rewarded the defender with a two-year deal worth $2.7 million.
Over the next two seasons, the 5-foot-8 skater scored 21 points in 110 games and made little impact on the ice. At 37, Bouillon went back to the Montreal Canadiens for the final two years of his career, reaching the Eastern Conference Final before officially hanging up the skates.
No. 3 – Viktor Stalberg, LW
Poile went after a 28-year-old Stalberg thinking he perhaps added a solid top-six winger to the roster. After scoring 22 goals back in 2011 with the Chicago Blackhawks, Stalberg never scored 20 or more points in the NHL again.
The Swedish forward was plucked off the free-agent market for $12 million — a gross overpayment considering he contributed just 10 goals and 28 points over 95 games with the Predators, spending much of his time being passed from Nashville to Milwaukee.
Poile ended up buying out Stalberg’s deal after two seasons, owing him $1.6 million until the end of the 2018-19 season. He later finished his time in the NHL with stints with the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Ottawa Senators.
No. 2 – Mike Ribeiro, C
Nashville’s default No. 1 center until the Predators dealt for Ryan Johansen in 2016, Ribeiro was a hot commodity after his first year in Nashville in which he scored 15 goals and 62 points, but he hit a wall the following season. Johansen slotted in well on the top line while Ribeiro started to slowly wither under former head coach Peter Laviolette.
The French Canadian joined Nashville after being bought out by the Arizona Coyotes. Former general manager Don Maloney knew it was in good conscience to move on when he did after just one season.
“Mike had some real behavior issues last year with us (that) I felt we could not tolerate going forward,” Maloney told AZcentral sports in 2014. “To his credit, he has been getting help this offseason and obviously would hope he continues. But at the end of the year and all the background checking and what happened, we felt that for us to move forward, we couldn’t have him a part of this team.”
Poile spent a total of $8.05M on three seasons of Ribeiro, who scored 137 points in 209 games before slipping down to the Milwaukee Admirals to conclude his time as a Predator, which will be mostly remembered for being charged with sexual assault of his nanny in 2014. The case was settled out of court.
No. 1 – Matthew Lombardi, C
Before signing a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Predators in the 2010 offseason, Lombardi had scored 236 points in 444 games, including a 19-goal, 53-point season the year before with the Coyotes. Lombardi’s addition came after former captain Jason Arnott was dealt to the New Jersey Devils.
However, a neck injury prevented Lombardi from truly making an impact for Nashville, as he suited up just two times for the team before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 2011.
Poile flushed that deal and more than $10M down the toilet not long after the ink had dried. The forward went on to play six more years of professional hockey split between the NHL and the Swiss-A league, suiting up for the Geneve Servette.