Nashville Predators sign three forwards as free agency begins

July 5th, 2013

Ready to retool their roster, the Predators dipped into the free agent market today and added forwards with size and speed.

Nashville started the day by signing former Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg,  a 6-foot-3, 27-year-old winger who scored 22 goals two seasons ago, to a four-year, $12 million deal.

The Predators added Matt Cullen from the Minnesota Wild with a two-year, $7 million contract. They also signed center Matt Hendricks from the Washington Capitals to a four-year, $7.4 million deal.

Stalberg fits the mold of a top-six forward Nashville seeking. He was buried on the depth chart with the Stanley Cup champs this past season, but he had 23 points in 47 games, which would have been third-most on the offense-starved Predators.

Cullen, who spent the last three seasons with Minnesota, is a shifty two-way center with excellent speed. He’s a solid character player who won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes. At 36, Cullen is nearing the end of his career, but he has stayed productive, averaging 18:56 of ice time in his last full season and scoring 35 points in a third line role.

The 6-foot, 211-pound Hendricks isn’t a scorer, but according to a June 7 Washington Post story, he is “willing to do everything from fight, kill penalties, fill in on the top lines, score clutch shootout goals or simply keep his teammates laughing.” In his last full season he had nine points in 78 games.

Later the Predators added a backup goaltender, signing minor leaguer Carter Hutton, who has only one game of NHL experience.

In 51 games with Rockford of the American Hockey League last season, Hutton had a 2.72 goals against average and .908 save percentage.

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