David Poile and the Nashville Predators checked off one of the things on their offseason to-do list on Monday afternoon. They signed Jeremy Lauzon, who came into the offseason as a restricted free agent, to a four-year, $8M contract that will run through the 2025-2026 season.
Lauzon is someone whose acquisition was originally much maligned by Predators fans. The team was looking to get deeper on the third defensive pairing, preferably something that would have been a low-cost, low-risk buy.
But they ended up throwing a second-round pick at Lauzon, which was looked at as a pure desperation move at the time of the trade.
Poile explained that he looked at Lauzon as someone who could be a future piece for the team, and he stayed true to his word by locking him up for an additional four years. So it is at least a good thing to know that the second-round pick that was given up will not just go to waste.
As far as the contract itself goes, at first glance, four years is a bit long for a third-pairing defenseman. For guys like that, two or three years is usually an appropriate length, especially because third-pairing defensemen are usually a dime a dozen in free agency in any given year.
That being said, the $2M AAV is just fine, and the length is understandable given the history of the Predators and Lauzon himself. Before this past year and even through some of it, the third pairing on defence had been an absolute mess.
It was a painfully revolving door from year to year to year, with guys like Dan Hamhuis, Jarred Tinordi, Erik Gudbranson, and Ben Harpur hemorrhaging undeserved minutes. With Lauzon locked up for the next few seasons, the Predators now have more breathing room, and especially with Mark Borowiecki under contract for next year, the third pair should not be an issue for a while.
Lauzon also is not like most third-pairing defensemen in the NHL, and that is mainly because he is 25 years old and has a legitimate chance to improve throughout his contract. He also showed in the few games he played for the Predators this past year that he has a shot to be feared, which is a huge asset that most bottom two defensemen do not have.
He made some mistakes for the Predators this year, and his time in Seattle was not the least bit encouraging, but it is important to note that he is not being signed to do what he did in Seattle. He showed that he can handle the task he is now being signed for in Nashville, so the team and fans should feel good about what he will bring to the ice.
And even if the contract is not perfect, these are not the contracts that kill teams and their futures. He is signed for super cheap, and the length is still not completely out of the ordinary even though it is not great, so it is not worth losing sleep over this one.
This also has no bearing on the rest of the Predators’ offseason plans, as the AAV on the deal is about what was expected, and the team still has over $21M to spend. As far as how this impacts the team’s defensive core, this shows that Poile has essentially admitted failure on the acquisition of Philippe Myers last offseason, making the trade involving Ryan Ellis essentially a straight swap for Cody Glass.
The team has a lot of options between their current roster and what they have in Milwaukee, so it will be interesting to see what they decide to do with all of them. They most likely cannot keep everyone, so some tough decisions will have to be made.
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