Predators' budget on the rise
“I will be shocked if the Nashville Predators don’t have the biggest increase in payroll — both percentage-wise and in sheer dollars — of any team in the NHL,’’ said David Freeman, who heads the team’s ownership group.Good news for hockey fans in Nashville.
The Predators' spending fell from about $40-million in 2006-07 under a $44-million cap to approximately $35-million under a $50.3-million cap this season, and while the team made the playoffs, that's a dip that hurts your competitiveness level.
Only three teams spent less than $40-million this season (Nashville, Phoenix and Columbus), and it's a good thing, too: The floor's expected to surpass that figure, $1-million more than the 2005-06 cap, next season.
Nashville has some interesting, and rather challenging, decisions to make in the off-season. How deep into the bidding do you go for an unrestricted free agent like Dan Ellis, who led the NHL in save percentage this season as a 27-year-old rookie? Chris Mason's new nearly-starter-like contract ($3-million a season) kicks in next season, so does he become your guy after a mediocre turn in that role?
I'm not sure it makes sense to have two 'tenders at that price.
Others to be re-signed include Martin Erat, who's emerged as a key cog, UFA Martin Gelinas, and two young defencemen in Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, types that have been commanding huge, long-term dollars around the league lately.
If I'm in the ownership group, however, the first priority would be to ensure GM David Poile sticks around, as I wouldn't be surprised to see his name entered as a candidate for the Maple Leafs' vacancy. He's done a nice job stockpiling young talent for the Predators, and as we've seen elsewhere, it's beginning to get to the point where they have to pay up.
The cap's not going down anytime soon, and they're chasing the floor.