For one week this summer it looked like the Predators' world was about to come crashing down around them.
Still reeling from Ryan Suter's decision to join the Minnesota Wild with Zach Parise, the Predators soon received news that captain Shea Weber had signed a gigantic 14-year offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers. David Poile - undoubtedly remembering his own experience after allowing Scott Stevens to walk away as Washington's GM in 1990 - matched the offer, locking Weber down in Music City.
So where does that leave the Predators?
Weber - the two-time Norris nominee - remains, yet his partner is gone. Will the team once again prove its worth in one of the league's toughest divisions? Or will Ryan Suter prove the Wild's efforts to be worth the cash investment?
Ryan Ellis remains the most familiar name to Canadian fans amongst the Predators' prospect pool. The skilled-yet-small defender has elite offensive skills and performed admirably in a 32-game stint with the Predators last season, registering three goals and eight assists.
The team has a pair of massive power-forward prospects in Taylor Beck and Zach Budish. Beck could compete for a roster spot in camp after a decent rookie season in the AHL that saw him get 40 points in 74 games. Budish is likely to remain at the University of Minnesota this season, but his 35 points in 43 games were a nice return to form after being limited to just seven games the previous season.
The team also made smart use of its two second-rounders acquired from Tampa for Lindback - selecting two of Bob McKenzie's top 40 prospects in Pontus Aberg (at 37th where McKenzie had him ranked) and Colton Sissons (taken 50th overall, ranked 33rd by McKenzie). Sissons was invited to Canada's World Junior selection camp after a strong start with Kelowna, but withdrew due to injury.
The Preds' leading scorers and core character players at forward last season are all back for another year. The team re-upped Mike Fisher and has high hopes that veterans Martin Erat and David Legwand can continue to carry the goal-scoring burden. More to the point, the Alexander Radulov drama is finally behind them. Players of Radulov's skillset are always helpful, but his presence proved to be a distraction in last season's playoffs.
What message has Weber sent his teammates through electing to sign an offer from Philly so soon after Suter chose Minnesota? Both he and his agent claimed Weber would not have signed the offer had he not been prepared to stay in Nashville in the event of a counter-offer. However, Weber made it clear immediately after signing the offer that he believed Philly offered a better shot at winning a Cup. Will he still instill faith in his teammates?
A look at where Predators players went during the lockout:
Gabriel Bourque (Milwaukee, AHL), Ryan Ellis (Milwaukee, AHL), Patric Hornqvist (Fribourg Gotteron, Swiss Elite), Roman Josi (Bern, Swiss Elite), Kevin Klein (Herlev, Danish League), Sergei Kostitsyn (Avangard Omsk, KHL), Pekka Rinne (Dinamo Minsk, KHL), Craig Smith (Kuopio, Finnish Elite)