It’s time for the next installment of the Captain Search Series. Last time we took a look at the idea of poaching Joe Thornton off the Sharks and slapping a C on his chest in Vegas, today we do the same with the 36 year old husband of Carrie Underwood, Mike Fisher.
One of America’s better named newspapers, the Nashville Tennessean, held their periodic Predators Mailbag. There’s not enough room for a weekly NHL off-season mailbag, because Nashville’s sports pages are covered with Marcus Mariota. Back to the mailbag, a local hockey fan asked our favorite Tennessean writer with the last name Vingan, Adam Vingan, about next year’s expansion draft. It’s a complex question, because Nashville could be one team that protects four defensemen. A possible fortune not many teams have.
Protecting Roman Josi, and PK Subban are no brainers. What’s making it tough on GM David Poile, are second line Defensman Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Two very talented blueliners who’ve paired successfully, and might be tough to break up.
Vingan printed his own protected list of Nashville players in the ole’ Tennessean. One player that didn’t make his list, and stood out to me was Assistant Captain Mike Fisher. The favorite to become Nashville’s captain next season. The forward has played in Nashville since 2011, and worn an “A” since 2012. After Mariota, Fisher might be the most recognized sports figure in Nashville. Plus he’s got that whole Carrie Underwood thing going for him.
I know Fisher is aging, and had a serious achilles injury two seasons ago, but he played in 70 games in 15′-16′. As well as scoring five goals this past postseason. Fisher is undoubtedly the remaining Predator’s leader, after Poile robbed the Habs for PK. His contract is up at the end of next season, making him an interesting case. He won’t need a four or five-year deal, and it won’t be for that much money. Fisher will likely be on his second to last, or last NHL contract.
Fisher has never been considered a sniper, but more of a scrappy, gritty player that heavily impacts games. He’s also an excellent special teams player. Leading the Preds on the PK, and assisting James Neal and Fillip Forsberg on the PP. Two areas GM George McPhee will have to address. Fisher could help build team chemistry, play 18 minutes a game, and be a figure in the community. Wearing the “C” in Las Vegas will be important for many reasons, one is cohesiveness. These guys have never played together, but the team might mesh quicker with an effective general. A leader that other NHL’ers recognize and respect. Mike Fisher is that player.
Most importantly, if McPhee signs Fisher, he’ll get an impressive two-for-one. Not only will Las Vegas pick up a team leader, but they’ll be able to put to bed the whole, who will sing the National Anthem issue.
Fisher wants to play, if he plays at all, in Nashville*. Nobody here worried that he was headed elsewhere when he closed in on free agency last offseason.
As for Vingan leaving him off the protected list, it’s simple: his contract is up at the end of next season. McPhee can take him, he can wait a week, and then re-sign in Nashville. It’s the Thornton example from your UFA article: Poile will be perfectly happy to ride with an informal handshake deal on Fisher if it means protecting a 20-goal scorer with contract term instead.
*If Underwood gets a stage show in Vegas between now and then, all bets are off. But short of that….
If McPhee does take him, there would have to be a signed deal in place, so he couldn’t go back without a trade. Certainly possible, but I think in the end you are probably right, he’ll be in Nashville til he hangs em up. We can dream though… let us dream!
It won’t solve the captain thing, but I think today’s Jarnkrok contract is the one you ought to be watching out of Nashville. Mid-6 center, good on the PK, spot fill at top-line wing, just signed for 6 x $2m. That’s a guy you could build around, and I can’t see how the Preds protect him (other than “here, take this draft pick if you skip Jarnkrok”) given the rest of the roster today.