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Thoughts A Brewin’: Free Agency Begins

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Nashville Predators GM Barry Trotz

As today, July 1, marks the beginning of free agency, the Nashville Predators and general manager Barry Trotz find themselves searching to fill eight roster spots (one goalie, three defensemen, four forwards) on the 23-man roster with an available $26,345,801 in cap space.

Spencer Stastney, an impending restricted free agent, is undoubtedly going to fill one of the defensive roster spots. And per reports Sunday, unrestricted free agent Alex Carrier is believed to be reaching an extension to re-sign in Nashville. 

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and 32 Thoughts has predicted Carolina Hurricanes UFA defenseman Brady Skjei and Vegas Golden Knights UFA forward Chandler Stephenson to land in Nashville. Both are 30 years old but bring veteran leadership and continued defensive and offensive abilities, respectively. 

Numerous reports have floated the idea of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos drawing strong interest from the Predators, among others. His services will most certainly be highly coveted as it seems the 34-year-old will not be re-signing in Tampa Bay.

There haven’t been any rumblings of a backup goaltender, so I’m leaning with Yaroslav Askarov until told otherwise. It can still work, although Trotz will inevitably keep floating the young Russian on the trade market.

An ideal free agency with the players listed above would be: 

Stastney: three years, $1.5M AAV

Carrier: two years, $3M AAV

Stamkos: three years, $6M AAV

Skjei: three years, $6M AAV

Stephenson: three years, $3M AAV

Many, if not all of these numbers, except for Stastney, will likely be inflated in reality due to the need to convince a player to come to your team. We shall see.

If we are assuming all of these contracts get signed, this would leave $6,845,801 in cap space to fill three more roster spots. Based on my previous UFA predictions, this would permit the Predators to re-sign both Jason Zucker and Kiefer Sherwood at respectable deals. I predicted $3.5M AAV for Zucker and $900k AAV for Sherwood. That leaves roughly $2.4M for a backup goalie, which is the estimate I stated would probably be the cost for such a position, retaining Kevin Lankinen or pursuing the open market. 

Today is always one of the most fun days of the NHL calendar because you just never know. 

Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10

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