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And then there were six: So much for Nashville’s mid-season reload

May 8, 2012, 12:53 AM EDT

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 07: (L-R) Ryan Suter #20 and Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators skate up a face off circle in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 7, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

For just the second time in their franchise’s history, the Nashville Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs. They defeated the Detroit Red Wings in five games, which is no small accomplishment, but they wanted more.

It was fair for their fans to expect more too after they made this season a priority by trading for Andrei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill, and Paul Gaustad. They also got Alexander Radulov back, who skipped town to play in the KHL after the 2007-08 campaign.

Still, despite all those additions, the Predators didn’t get any further than they did a year ago, so let’s begin the dissection…

What happened?

Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith certainly deserves a fair amount of credit for limiting the Predators to just one goal in their final two games. However, Phoenix’s best players never rose to the occasion in this series.

It’s also worth noting that Nashville was the best team in the NHL with the man advantage during the regular season, but they only managed three power-play goals in the second round.

Who takes the blame?

Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn will take the lion’s share of the blame. They were suspended for Game 3 over a team rule violation, which incidentally was the only contest Nashville actually won in this series.

Even when Radulov played in the second round, he wasn’t the star that they needed him to be. In fact, he might have actually done more harm then good. Kostitsyn got two goals in the second round, but his off-ice activities were a distraction.

What will they do about it?

The Predators have some tough decisions to make. Andrei Kostitsyn is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and do they really want to re-sign him after what happened? What about Alexander Radulov, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent?

Who knows if Radulov even wants to stay in the NHL, but it wouldn’t be shocking if neither of them are wearing Predators’ uniforms at the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

Of course, we’re sidestepping the elephant in the room because the truth is Kostitsyn and Radulov will not be the big summer stories in Nashville. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will be.

Weber is scheduled to become a restricted free agent, but the Predators will probably want to sign him to a long-term contract. The only question is if he’ll agree to be tied down to Nashville. His decision might depend largely on what happens with Suter.

If Nashville can’t re-sign him, Suter will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Their decision to go out and acquire players for a playoff push was probably largely motivated by a desire to show Suter that they’re serious about competing.

However the trades didn’t produce the desired results. They may have in fact only hurt the Predators in the long-term seeing as Kostitsyn, Gill, and Gaustad might all walk as free agents. So will Suter factor that into his decision this summer?

For that matter, is it really the beginning of the end for Nashville if Suter leaves? They have two very talented young blueliners in Ryan Ellis and Jonathon Blum. Maybe the Suter/Weber era is drawing to it’s close in Nashville, but all hope is not lost for the Predators.

More

And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

And then there were 10: Bruins run out of Game 7 magic

And then there were 9: Senators out, but future’s bright

And then there were 8: Panthers go out swinging

And then there were seven: Blues swept out of Western Conference semifinal

  1. Buffalo Grumblings - May 8, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Can we have Gaustad back? That didn’t work!

  2. natlbnkilr - May 8, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    NO… Goose stays here!

  3. polegojim - May 8, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    The Wings are not what they once were, but Detroit still demands an incredible effort and exacts a toll on those to play, even if they beat them.

    Preds had very little in the tank to over come the Coyotes afterward… the Coyotes???

  4. rabidbillsfan - May 8, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    If for whatever reason, Gaustad does end up back in Buffalo, I think it will be the best move Darcy could make in his career. Goose is a well respected player here, he plays hard, and works hard. I always thought, prior to the trade, that the Kaleta-Goose-Gerbe line was the best this Sabres team had to offer. It was extremly consistent night to night, you knew there were going to be agitated penalties and 3 guys who would fight for the puck their whole shift. Also, Goose was a force on the PK. I’ll never forget the 3-on-5 in last years playoffs when he lost his stick, that is the epitome of team work and the will to win. I’d be cool with a Kaleta-Goose-Gerbe, Stafford-Ennis-Foligno, and Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville lines. We all know Roy is on his way out, bringing Goose back would justify the move. That leaves you Tropp, Leino, and Adam available for either a rotation or a 2/3 line. I said a few weeks ago, this Sabres team will be better off with subtraction rather then addition this offseason.

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