Nashville Predators Re-Sign Colin Wilson

Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators signed forward Colin Wilson to a four-year, $15.75 million contract, avoiding arbitration, the team announced today via press release.

Wilson was the last restricted free agent for the Predators this offseason, and his new deal caps off a solid offseason for general manager David Poile. The contract comes with an annual average value of $3.9375 million, which is just below the $4.25 million AAV that Craig Smith received in his new five-year deal last week.

Now that Wilson has been locked up, the Predators can finally turn their focus from their top-six forwards and try to figure out how to bring their bottom-six into shape. They have their bottom-line centers locked up in Cody Hodgson and Paul Gaustad. The wingers, however, are very much in flux. Calle Jarnkrok, Gabriel Bourque and Eric Nystrom will compete with new KHL signing Steve Moses and prospects Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, Austin Watson and Miikka Salomaki for four wing spots.

Fiala and Arvidsson are future top-six forwards, so if they don’t make the roster now, it’s not the end of the world. Watson would fit well in those roles, and so would Moses, who played outstanding hockey at the 2015 IIHF World Championship. Salomaki was solid last season, especially in his limited time with the Predators, before he was sidelined with an injury.

Also, with Wilson now locked up, the only real hole in their lineup is a first-line center. Mike Ribeiro has played great hockey, but he is not a long-term superstar first-line center. All of the past few Stanley Cup champions have top-level talent at the first-line center slot (Jonathan Toews for the Chicago Blackhawks, Anze Kopitar for the Los Angeles Kings, and Patrice Bergeron for the Boston Bruins).

If the Predators legitimately want to win a Stanley Cup, they’ll need to acquire a legitimate top-six center. There’s a slim chance there could be a star available on the free agent market, but they’ll likely have to find that center through trading. It’s unfair to speculate on what forwards could be available, but Poile has made moves at the deadline for the past few years that have really helped the team, and is not afraid to deal to make the team better.

This season will be interesting for the Predators, as they try to follow up on a stellar 2014-15 campaign. Can they sustain their success, or will they fall into the “sophomore slump” like the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars did last season?