The Nashville Predators said they would be active in free agency, and just over two hours into the frenzy they have reportedly made four signings: Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks, Carter Hutton and Eric Nystrom.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Predators have signed winger Viktor Stalberg to a four-year, $12 million contract.
Compared to the other contracts being signed today, it seems like a good value signing. Stalberg is 27 years old and is coming off two solid seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. He notched 22 goals and 43 points in 2011-12 and chipped in with 23 points in 47 games this past season. He adds size and speed to the second or third line, essentially replacing what Sergei Kostitsyn brought to the table but with more offensive potential.
Stalberg didn’t have a good postseason with Chicago, tallying three points in 19 games, but he will get more of an opportunity in Nashville.
According to TSN’s Aaron Ward, the Predators have signed veteran center Matt Cullen to a two-year, $7 million contract.
Cullen adds depth down the middle and the Predators needed to add a center, but he’s not someone teams would ideally put in their top-six up front. He is 37 years old and his best years are behind him. The $3.5 million cap hit is a rich amount for an aging center. He’s always been a solid, consistent producer who has never hit the 50-point mark in his 15-year career. He is a good faceoff player that can contribute offensively. He was an important piece to the Carolina Hurricanes’ puzzle in their 2006 Stanley Cup run.
Hendricks, who is 32 and was originally drafted by the Predators in 2000, adds toughness to the Predators’ bottom-six up front. Last season with Washington, he collected eight points and 73 penalty minutes in 48 games. In 2010-11 he had 25 points and 110 penalty minutes. He’s a team-first guy that sticks up for his teammates.
According to Predators PR, the Predators have signed goaltender Carter Hutton to a one-year, two-way contract. Hutton has one NHL game on his resume, but perhaps this is another Dan Ellis-type signing in goal. He was originally undrafted and spent the last two years in the Blackhawks organization. With AHL Rockford this season he posted a 2.72 GAA and .908 save percentage in 51 appearances.
Finally, according to USA Today’s Kevin Allen, the Predators have signed Eric Nystrom to a four-year, $10 million contract.
Nystrom spent the last two seasons with the Dallas Stars and, like Hendricks, adds toughness and character to the Predators’ lineup. He scored 16 goals in 2011-12 and seven goals last season. It will be interesting to see where he and these other signings fit in. The Predators now have at least 14 or 15 forwards competing for a roster spot and restricted free agent Nick Spaling has not been signed.