Following Wednesday’s practice, Predators head coach Barry Trotz was asked about being able to evaluate some of the younger players in these final games. Here was his response:
“You have to do something productive and the productive thing is that you’re getting a long, hard look at guys, where they are … We want to build a top-level team here, so guys are showing us if they’re capable of being top-level guys or being a part of a top-level team. That’s really what you’re evaluating. And then obviously we’re going to have a very busy summer. That’s going to be part of the process.”
“A busy summer, in what way?” a media member asked.
“In just trying to retool ourselves as a team,” Trotz said. “We have to make some decisions on guys. We’ll be looking at everything. David [Poile] has a gameplan that’s probably inappropriate for me to comment on, but I know we’re going to have to have a very busy summer and make sure that we fill holes.
“Let’s not sugarcoat it – we want to be a top-level team and we have to go there. We’re going to have to do what’s necessary to do that.”
The Predators have three pending unrestricted free agents for this summer – Chris Mason, Chris Mueller and Brandon Yip – along with a bevy of restricted free agents, eight to be exact, including Roman Josi, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.
According to CapGeek.com, the Predators have 15 players signed for 2013-14 for a total of $43 million. With the salary cap coming down to $64.3 million, GM David Poile will have some cap room to work with this off-season. For the first time in three years, Poile won’t be spending time trying to lock up the Big Three of Pekka Rinne, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.