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Preds haven’t qualified RFA’s Blum, Halischuk or Jeremy Smith

Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile held his pre-draft press conference at Bridgestone Arena today. Among the non-draft highlights was the status of a handful of restricted free agents.

  • Jon Blum, Nashville’s first round pick in 2007 (#23 overall), has not been extended an qualifying offer. After impressing during the final half of the 2010-11 campaign, Blum had a rough go when given a full-time spot the following year. He rebounded well enough to spend the entire lockout-shortened season with the big club but obviously didn’t impressive enough to be asked back. Truth be told, a numbers game could play a factor in this decision as well. With young defensemen like Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Victor Bartley ready for prime time, Blum is very much an odd man out. The Rancho Santa Margarita, California, native is coming off a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level.
  • Matt Halischuk once scored 15 goals in a single season for this team. Since then, however, he’s scored just 11 points, 10 of which coming in the final 20 games of a lost season. Once known as a “throw-in” to the Jason Arnott trade, the 25-year old winger is now best known for his overtime heroics in game two of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals against the Vancouver Canucks. He’s coming off of a two-year deal with a $712,500 annual cap hit.
  • Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith will not be qualified either, allowing him to catch on with another NHL organization. Even though he should have been an AHL All-Star in 2011-12, Smith has been passed on the depth chart by Magnus Hellberg. When Smith went down with an injury, Hellberg was given the reigns and thrived. The big Swede was named AHL Goalie of the Month after posting a 6-1-0 record, a 1.36 goals-against average, a .950 save percentage and two shutouts in the month of February.  He also won his final four games of the year — posting shutouts in the final two — to propel his club into the Calder Cup Playoffs on the final day of the AHL season. Smith is coming off of a one-year deal with a $660,000 NHL salary.

Poile also mentioned that the Predators have extended a qualifying offer to versatile winger Nick Spaling but have not, as of yet, signed him.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //