The Nashville Predators took another step towards solidifying their center position. Shortly after announcing the club had signed Mike Ribeiro to a one-year deal, the Preds also revealed they have signed Derek Roy to a one-year, $1 million contract. In the span of one day, Nashville went from a need at center to a surplus.
The offseason injury requiring surgery to Mike Fisher clearly created a need for the Preds, but they've gone above and beyond filling it.
“Derek brings us added depth, playmaking ability and experience at center, helping complement our young, developing wingers,” Nashville general manager David Poile said in a statement. “He has played in a number of roles, averaging about 19 minutes of ice time throughout his career, and is effective on the power play. He provides our coaching staff with some added skill and maturity down the middle when putting together our lineup for the coming season.”
Roy is coming off a rather disappointing season with the St. Louis Blues in which he posted 37 points in 75 games. He does have a 30-goal season in his career, but that was way back in 2007-08 and he hasn't looked close to the dynamic scorer he was with the Buffalo Sabres in the heyday of his career.
At 31 years old, Roy should have plenty left to give and the Predators are handing him a one-year, low-money deal to see just how much is there.
With the addition of Roy joining Ribeiro and July 1 signee Olli Jokinen the Predators now have three veteran centers with some great years in their past under contract for a grand total of $4.5 million, which is just a hair more in total of Fisher's entire cap hit. They're stop gaps, really, but players with a prior track record of success in their careers and there's some value in that.
Part of these signings will allow the Preds to keep younger players like Colin Wilson and Craig Smith on the wing if they so choose and based on these signings, it looks like they would. There's also less pressure to hand full-time jobs to Calle Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg until both are ready (and they very well may be by the beginning of the season).
In the absence of Fisher, they have Ribeiro, Roy and Jokinen down the middle for their top three lines and Paul Gaustad to hold down the fourth line. When Fisher returns, which is expected to be in four-to-six months, it will be interesting to see how the lineup shuffles.
Either way, the Preds have gone low-risk on the deals they've handed out. With a really difficult time bringing in free agents with higher pedigree, sometimes the Preds have to make do with the cheap assets that are available. They have a growing prospects system that should help feed the big club over the next few seasons, but still needs time. These stop-gap signings won't make the Preds especially competitive in the tough Central Division, but it helps them get through the season with a roster a bit better than the one Nashville iced last year.
The defense looks solid and Pekka Rinne appears healthy in net, while James Neal should add some scoring punch up front. If some of the younger players step up and the veteran signings regain some of their form from previous seasons, there are pieces for this club to put together a respectable season. That may not include the playoffs, but improvement should be expected.