Welcome back to another edition of Nashville Predators News & Rumors. We will talk about the rumors connecting Ryan Johansen with the Seattle Kraken and a potential deal. We will also touch on the mention from Elliotte Friedman that the Predators looked into acquiring Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn. Finally, we will talk about Pekka Rinne‘s retirement and the open possibility of Carter Hutton coming back to Nashville.
Ryan Johansen Connected to the Kraken
The Fourth Period published a “Summer Trade Watch” article going over their top 30 players to watch out for this summer, and Johansen was one player on the list. Granted, he was 30th, but he made it nonetheless. One team that he has been linked to since they officially became a part of the NHL landscape is the Kraken. It’s for obvious reasons, as Johansen carries a ridiculously high cap hit of $8 million. The Predators front office could find a way to offload that salary through the expansion draft or trade.
Whether or not he will be left exposed has yet to be seen, but it would surprise no one. One possible scenario is bribing Seattle to take his deal. Whether that comes through a roster player or extra draft picks is not known for sure. However, anything is on the table at this point. A direction of youth is the path David Poile has chosen, which is probably for the best. It also means that salary cap relief coming in any shape or form is vital. Core forwards outside of Filip Forsberg (for now) appears to be touchable, and shedding salary should be a priority.
Alex Killorn Was a Target
On the same “Darren, Daunic, and Chase” segment with Elliotte Friedman that I mentioned in the most recent Predators News & Rumors, Friedman subtly said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Poile take another run at Killorn. Apparently, he was willing to wait for him at the end of last season to see how everything panned out, and considering the cap situation the Lightning are in right now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him at the top of the trade block.
As far as acquiring him goes from a Predators perspective, he’s a veteran presence with Stanley Cup experience. Having just won back-to-back cups with the Lightning, he knows what it takes to win. He could be a strong depth contributor, and 31-years-old isn’t a bad age for a player of his caliber. He’s a player that can go unnoticed at times, but it’s not because he isn’t making an impact. It’s because he’s doing well in other areas outside of the scoresheet.
One of those instances is on the powerplay. Everyone knows how lethal Tampa special teams is year in and year out. Killorn is a vital part, and while he may not be the most potent offensive presence, his screens are very effective. It wouldn’t be the same without someone standing in front and someone who knows when he should move to a different area to increase the chances of a goal.
I’m not entirely sure what a package could look like, but a team with the cap situation that Tampa has could take a discounted price to get him off the payroll. Whether it be a draft pick or two or a low-tier prospect and a draft pick, there’s no doubt the Lightning could look to get rid of him. It would be an interesting pickup for the Predators, but if their entire plan is to shed salary and bring in youth, I’m not a fan of the idea.
Carter Hutton Open to Returning to Nashville
Hutton on Darren, Daunic, and Chase said some intriguing things about his future. He is currently on the free-agent market, and recently finished a stint with the Buffalo Sabres. It was very forgettable. He ended with a .902 save percentage (Sv%)–mainly propelled by a .908 Sv% in his first season with the team–and a 3.12 goals-against average (GAA). At age 35, he’s starting to hit the declining territory, but he’s still willing to put on a uniform and hit the ice.
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One possibility that Hutton brought up was a return to Nashville. He said he would be open to returning to the team in a backup role. In his career with Nashville, he had a .910 Sv% and a 2.55 GAA, which are pretty good numbers for a backup goalie. Granted, he was younger at the time, and Buffalo is known to take a toll on players. However, it’s not surprising that Hutton is willing to go to a team with a better defense and prove that he’s still worth any money that an NHL team will give him.
That being said, I don’t think it would be a good move to bring him back. Hutton and Rinne were an excellent tandem of goaltenders years back, but those days have come and gone. There are better options than a 35-year-old goaltender, who was exposed to the trials and tribulations that exist only with the Sabres.
It’s an interesting thought experiment, and having met Hutton; I wish him all the best. I do hope he finds one last NHL deal. However, I don’t think it should be in Nashville.
Pekka Rinne Retires from the NHL
The big kahuna of news that has come out of Nashville is Rinne’s retirement from the NHL. There was speculation throughout the entire year about his future with the team. His contract would be expiring, and with the selection of Yaroslav Askarov at 11th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, it was hard to believe that something wasn’t up. He retired at 38 years of age and with a long list of accolades to be proud of down the line. He finished with the fifth-highest Vezina Trophy votes percentage behind legendary names like Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, and Ed Belfour. He added one of them to his trophy case in 2018 after helping lead the team to a Presidents Trophy win. He finished his career with a 369-213-75 record with 60 total shutouts and a .917 Sv% and a 2.43 GAA. Truly impressive.
His performance on the ice is enough to brag about for hours. But it was his kindness off the ice that touched people’s hearts the most. Not only did he start the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund with former captain Shea Weber, but he also did several other projects to help the marginalized. He was also one of the most humble guys you can ever meet. Not once did he act above anyone else, fans, media, or otherwise. His actions and kindness touched every single heart in the Nashville hockey world. The market for hockey in Tennessee wouldn’t be what it is today without the assistance of Rinne with the team.
There’s not much more to say other than it’s hard to hate him. Rinne is a class act and deserves the utmost respect from hockey fans around the world. He’s arguably the greatest Finnish goaltender of all time, and his freakishly athletic style of play wow’d crowds every night he took to the blue paint. He will be missed, but a long and safe retirement is deserved for the most influential figure in Nashville hockey. Thank you, Pekka.
Jeff is a consistent source for Predators content here at The Hockey Writers. He enjoys watching all sorts of hockey from juniors to the pros, and playing hockey for his high school and local teams in Nashville. He’s a big proponent of hockey analytics, and you’ll often see him using lots of statistics and data to back up his main talking points. You can find his work here, or check out his contributions on his own Substack, or at Last Word on Hockey and On the Forecheck. Lastly, you can listen to him on the Youth Movement Podcast presented by On the Forecheck or the Triple Shift Podcast. For any inquiries about interviews or questions about statistics, analytics, or just general hockey opinions you can message his twitter, @jjmid04.