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Paul Nicholson
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Friday, June 22, 2007

vokoun is gone

Breaking news: Tomas Vokoun was just traded to the Florida Panthers for 3 draft picks.

We also didn't make a qualifying offer to Ramzi Abid, but we did make one to Darcy Hordichuck. Look the end of last season and explain that one to me.

David Poile was trying to tell everyone that there were no plans for a fire sale, that he was still going to put together a competitive team. That made sense when he just let two about-to-be-expensive free agents go. But this was a new trade. One that makes a lot of sense, but still, the perception is there. it would be much different if this was a trade for a D-man or center to replace Kimmo or Hartnell, but for picks - next year? That doesn't look good, or help the team this year.

...Unless Poile can now use these picks to trade for someone else...

Update: The team will get better. It has to. I just heard on the radio we are now several million dollars under the salary minimum for next year - so we have to get someone else. Maybe resign Kariya, maybe a few lesser additions. But something. What i don't know for sure is if the recent qualifying offers are factored into that. Keeping Hordichuck, Nichol, Smithson, Zanon, etc may take us to the minimum by themselves. But even as we are - we still have Arnott, Sullivan, Erat, etc etc - we still have a solid team. No question.

But this trade was about math, not hockey. The fact remains, the Predators are not profitable as they are. The franchise can't support a very high payroll without an owner that dumps extra money in - lots of it. Right now Leipold still owns the team and there are no guarantees that he'll be able to find a buyer this year. He can't afford to dump any more money, so the budget has to come down. Our best hope is that our farm system really comes through. It's good, but i'm not sure it is that good. We're probably looking at a low playoff seed for next year, depending on how the rest of the conference looks.

The team will be fine without Vokoun. Mason played very strong, and i think better than Vokoun for much of last year. He even held his own for a very long stretch while Vokoun was injured, so i think he can be trusted with the starting job. The only risk is if Mason gets hurt, will Rinne be able to step up (assuming he even accepts the qualifying offer we just gave him).

In many ways, this mirrors the trade that our rivals, the San Jose Sharks, just made with the Maple Leafs hours before - though theirs has less of a fire-sale mentality to it. Both teams had the best goalie tandems in the league, and the players were just too valuable to hold on to. Both have had rumors of trades hanging over them for quite a while now.

The other rather sad note here is that Vokoun and Timonen were the final two players who had been with the team since the franchise began. And they are both gone now :-(

Of course this is going to make the goal of selling 14,000 just a little harder - again. But we still hold our destiny in our own hands.


Paul Nicholson said...

Note: The picture in this post is of Vokoun about to take the ice before game 5 of the playoffs last year. His last time to take the ice as a Predator.

Christy said...

Well, now I have to go buy a new Preds shirt, since mine says "Vokoun" on the back.

jimhenshaw said...

Canadian Press -- Posted on Globe & Mail website friday 7:32 pm

COLUMBUS — Craig Leipold no longer wants to see his Nashville Predators sold to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, a source has told The Canadian Press.

The Nashville owner has reportedly sent a letter to the NHL advising it to no longer consider Balsillie as a prospective owner of the team.

A league source told CP that Leipold cited the absence of a finalized sale agreement and Balsillie's desire to relocate the franchise to Hamilton as reasons for his decision.

A message was left with Balsillie's lawyer Richard Rodier.

Leipold and Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, agreed to a term sheet for the transfer of ownership of the club, but that is nonbinding. Delays in closing the deal prevented the sale from being up for vote by the league's 30 teams when they met earlier this week.

Balsillie has already started a process to move the Predators to Hamilton should a potential out in the team's lease with the arena in Nashville be exercised after the sale's completion. Leipold announced May 24 he was selling to the team to Balsillie.

The agreement between Leipold and Balsillie carried a June 30 deadline for completion, but that date could have been extended.

Paul Nicholson said...

Thanks for the heads up Jim!!!
I was watching Stargate tonight and missed out on all the news!

Paul Nicholson said...

Link back