After several news reports and speculation since Wednesday night, the Nashville Predators officially announce that Francis Bouillon has been re-signed in a 2-year deal that will pay him $2.7 million over two seasons.
This pretty much guarantees that Dan Hamhuis and Denis Grebeshkov will be employed elsewhere next season. The best hope for the Preds is that they will be able to trade the rights to both players for a draft pick at this year's NHL Entry Draft.
As it stands now it clearly looks like the top five D-men for the Preds will be Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Francis Bouillon, Kevin Klein, and Cody Franson.
The six/seven slots will be up for grabs in camp with Alexander Sulzer, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Jon Blum as the leading candidates. Sulzer would appear to have the inside track since he has a one way contract and the Preds may be hesitant to burn a year of the entry level contract on Blum, Josi, or Ellis unless they clearly are ready to play a full season with the Preds.
There is also an outside chance that if the Preds could find another Bouillon type deal when camp begins that they could bring in another experienced guy to pug the seventh man role for a year so as not to rush the younger players (I hear Chelios is available for the minimum).
Here is the official release from the Predators...
NASHVILLE PREDATORS SIGN FRANCIS BOUILLON TO A TWO-YEAR CONTRACT
Nashville, Tenn. (June 18, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Francis Bouillon to a two-year contract worth $2.7 million. The Montreal, Quebec native will make $1.2 million in 2010-11 and $1.5 million in 2011-12.
Bouillon, 34 (10/17/75), played a career-high 81 games for the Predators in 2009-10, ranking second on the team – and among the Top 20 NHL defensemen – in hits (162), while tying for third on the Predators in penalty minutes (50). He also posted 11 points (3g-8a), while averaging 19:18 per game a season ago, and played in all six of Nashville’s 2010 Playoff games.
The most tenured member of Nashville’s defensive corps, the 5-8, 198-pounder has played in 566 regular-season games with Nashville and Montreal since 1999, amassing 113 points (24g-89a) and 421 penalty minutes.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass