It’s decision time for the Nashville Predators as they face the Minnesota Wild Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Even after they made the decision to send 22-year-old Juuso Parssinen to the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL on Tuesday, additional roster decisions need to be made quicker than general manager Barry Trotz likely would have hoped.
The most time-sensitive decision revolves around Denis Gurianov. The 26-year-old forward failed to make the Predators opening-night roster out of training camp after signing a one-year, $850,000 prove-it deal over the summer. Thursday in Minnesota will be Gurianov’s ninth NHL game this season and the 19th day he’s spent on Nashville’s active NHL roster since his recall from Milwaukee on Jan. 6.
Under Article 13.5 Collective Bargaining Agreement, Gurianov remains waiver exempt (he does not have to be exposed to other teams if sent back to Milwaukee) as long as he has not played in 10 cumulative NHL games or has been on the roster for 30 cumulative days since last clearing waivers.
Gurianov travelled to Minnesota with the team, so if he dresses in either of the Predators next three games against the Wild (Thursday), the Edmonton Oilers (Saturday) or the Ottawa Senators (Monday), he would need to pass through waivers in order to be sent back to Milwaukee again.
Gurianov has performed decently through his first eight games, but he was recalled for his offensive capabilities. Those skills haven’t resulted in much aside from a pedestrian one goal and two points. Gurianov brings a lot of speed and offensive talent, but he’s not been put in position to use those assets to his advantage.
He’s been playing on a line with Colton Sissons and Yakov Trenin. Neither are bad players by any means, but they are more defensively inclined forwards and not the kind of offensively skilled players that Gurianov is used to playing with. Skating with either Tommy Novak or Cody Glass might be a better approach to milking some goals out of the 6-foot-3 Russian.
The problem with the current Predators roster is that they have a lot of bodies filling roster spots but not producing enough goals or points to justify having more favor over another in head coach Andrew Brunette’s eyes.
The Predators roster now sits at 22 with one spot left open after assigning Parssinen to Milwaukee. The more waiver-exposed players a team has, the less flexibility it has in the event it would like to shake things up or give a younger player an opportunity to earn some NHL ice time down the stretch.
The Predators are not in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup championship this season, so this season should be about growing and testing out their assets to better structure their future. At this point, Gurianov should factor into Nashville’s future, and trying him out with more offensive-minded forwards instead of sending him back to the AHL is the way to go. There are other players on the Predators roster who should be waived before Gurianov is.
Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10