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Who will the Predators keep?

Next summer, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber (plus goalie Pekka Rinne) are up for contract, so can the team keep all three? (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Next summer, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber (plus goalie Pekka Rinne) are up for contract, so can the team keep all three? (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

A wise man once said, “send me your hockey-related questions and I’ll do my best to answer them” and you wise people responded. Here are the best inquiries this week:

Adam, will Martin Brodeur have a bounce back season? In the 2009-10 season Brodeur won the William Jennings Trophy and was a finalist for the Vezina. After battling injuries and having a losing record last season, where do you see Brodeur and the rest of the Devils going next season?
Nick Thunderbird, Newark, N.J.


Nick,

After the Devils’ helter-skelter season, I’m not sure exactly what to think of them. A lot of people wonder how much of their successful turnaround came from the tactics of once-again-former head coach Jacques Lemaire and I think that’s a fair question to ask. I also think their current defense corps is far from an elite group and doesn’t give Brodeur as much help as he used to get during the Niedermayer-Stevens-Rafalski-etc. glory days.

In fairness, the Devils were still ninth overall in the league in fewest goals-allowed and are getting a nice addition in first round draft pick Adam Larsson, not to mention the returning skills of a healthy Zach Parise. But with Brodeur now 39 years old, Travis Zajac out for some three months after suffering an Achilles injury while training - and no guarantee new coach Peter DeBoer will be able to replicate Lemaire’s success - I don’t think you can call New Jersey a lock to make the post-season.

That said, you never can count out any Lou Lamoriello team either.

Hey Adam, With Shea Weber being awarded a one-year, $7.5 million contract, it seems unrealistic that Preds GM David Poile will be able to sign Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne before July 1, 2012. Do you think Poile will be able to lock up all three players by then? If not, which player(s) do you think will be on the move?
Liam Morrison, Toronto


Hey Liam,

Although all three players were integral to Nashville’s success last season, the team’s limited financial resources will make it difficult to retain each of them. To me, Weber is the most important piece and if you look at the Predators’ past history as a goaltending factory (cranking out Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason and Dan Ellis), you’re tempted to assume that Rinne could be moved should his contract demands become too pricey.

But who knows? If the Preds stay competitive, perhaps more local owners will choose to invest and give Poile the option of signing each player to a long-term deal. There are always so many moving parts to a lot of these situations; it’s impossible to say for sure what the end result will be.

Hi Adam, I'm a huge Sens fan and NHL hockey is always on my mind. Because of this, I got a subscription to The Hockey News and I really love having it. But I was wondering, how do you think the Sens will be doing in about two years? The Hockey News magazine claimed they basically have no chance in making the playoffs, but do you think they could end up being completely wrong next season? It would be very much appreciated if you wrote back.
Christopher Schofield, Ottawa


Hi Christopher,

Firstly, thanks for subscribing. I think the Sens’ long-term future is brighter now than it looked last year, thanks to management’s understanding of how bare its shelf of prospects was looking.

A number of Sens fans got their underoos in a bunch because I called the Sens one of the NHL’s least-improved teams this season, but I stand by that assessment. That doesn’t mean I think they’ll be horrible forever, but there is not enough depth, skill and experience for them to seriously challenge for a playoff berth.

Nevertheless, depending on how Craig Anderson plays and how some of the younger talents on the team progress, GM Bryan Murray could add some veteran pieces next summer and have the Sens sniffing the periphery of the 2013 post-season.

Hey Adam, sponsorship in the NHL has been baffling me since I started watching the sport five or six years ago, specifically why no shirt sponsors? Here in the UK one of the most expensive areas of sponsorships is on the front of the team shirts. Manchester United, for example, are paid roughly £20 million ($32.5 million) a year for shirt sponsorship. Why is this area not exploited in hockey? It seems to me that everything else is sponsored, from the boards, to the ice, to highlights and replays, but the best area of real estate is not being exploited!!! Please enlighten me!!! Regards,
Joey Neale-Jennings, Horsham, U.K.


Hey Joey,

I’m going to chalk up your views to a cultural difference, because when the idea of putting ads on NHL jerseys was broached a couple of years ago, most North American fans lost their minds in anger at the possibility that their beloved jersey would be stained by corporate logos.

I was one of those people and although I see the benefit to teams who allowed such advertising, it wouldn’t do anything for fans other than add more visual clutter to an already over-saturated-with-ads environment. Let’s allow another North American sport to be the first to go this route and see how people respond.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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