Following the re-signing of Roman Josi, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said he would likely make a decision on some other of the team’s free agents by the end of the week. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, he lived up to his word by trading pending restricted free agent Bobby Butler to Florida in exchange for defenseman T.J. Brennan, who is also an RFA this off-season. The Predators have since confirmed the transaction.
In a 2012-13 season split between Buffalo and Florida, Brennan appeared in 29 games and posted three goals and 10 points. He also averaged 17:40 of ice time, and advanced stats would suggest he was one of the Panthers’ better players on the back end (albeit in a small sample size).
With the crop of free agent defensemen shrinking by the day, Poile may be looking for a cheaper, diamond-in-the-rough option to aid a Predators’ defense corps that struggled in 2012-13. Brennan, 24, was Buffalo’s second-round pick in 2007 but has spent the majority of the last four seasons in the AHL, with only 40 NHL games on his resumé.
What’s interesting about this move is the effect it could have on guys like Jonathon Blum and Victory Bartley (RFAs) and Mattias Ekholm next season. Bartley will surely be re-signed, but will Blum receive a qualifying offer? Brennan averaged 2:05 of ice time on the power play and racked up 35 points in 36 AHL games. He is said to have some offensive upside. If the Predators plan to use him on the second power play unit next season, it may cause Ekholm and/or Bartley to start next season in Milwaukee.
Making the decision to not keep Butler is also interesting, given that he played well down the stretch and may have earned himself a spot on the roster for next season. Now with him out of the picture, will Matt Halischuk and/or Brandon Yip be brought back as depth options?
The trickle-down effect from this depth move by Poile should be interesting. Time will tell if Brennan finds his niche in Nashville.