The Nashville Predators made it their first offseason priority to lock up restricted free agents Patric Hornqvist and Roman Josi. With Hornqvist signed to a five-year contract, Josi becomes the next priority. But the Predators have several other restricted free agents they need to make decisions on.
Nashville has until July 2 to tender qualifying offers to its slate of restricted free agents. That list includes the following roster players: Victor Bartley, Jonathon Blum, Bobby Butler, Matt Halischuk, Josi and Nick Spaling.
Spaling has been an important part of the Predators penalty kill over the last couple of years and Bartley earned his spot on the team playing top-four minutes with Kevin Klein. While it is more likely than not that Spaling and Bartley can expect qualifying offers from the team, whether or not there are offers to be had for Blum, Butler and Halischuk are up in the air.
A couple of those restricted free agents have been vocal about their desire to return to Smashville in the fall.
“Absolutely,” Halischuk said about wanting to re-sign with Nashville. “I am going to try to have a good summer and come back next year ready to play hard.”
Halischuk had off-season shoulder surgery, but he is expected to be good to go for training camp. A year after scoring 15 goals, the 24-year old right-winger had five goals and six assists in 35 games for Nashville. He didn’t blame his shoulder for the down year.
“I felt good the whole year, but I didn’t get off to the start I wanted production wise. Every team is going to have injuries so we can’t use that as an excuse,” he said.
Butler is currently at the IIHF World Championships playing for Team USA, his first time representing his country at an international event. Butler is tied for second in goals on the team with three tallies in six games played. He also has one helper.
Claimed off waivers by Nashville from the New Jersey Devils, Butler three goals and six assists in 20 games this season for Nashville. Five of those nine points came in the final seven games.
“It was a great experience when they opened their arms in Nashville. I’m very lucky. Nashville is a great city and a great organization,” he said.
While Butler has said he wants to remain a Predator, he hasn’t given much thought to a contract.
“I’m just worried about what I am doing tomorrow. I’m not thinking about it until I am done playing hockey.”
“[Butler] hasn’t been consistent,” said Predators GM David Poile, who traveled to the World Championships in Europe this past weekend. “If we can get his ‘A’ game all the time, we have a spot for him.”