The Nashville Predators are not just on the trail for a Stanley Cup, they are hoping a deep venture in the play-offs will convince their star players to stay.
Predators' play-off campaign fights two fronts
Somewhat lost in the on-ice anarchy of the first round of the NHL play-offs was the impressive performance of the Nashville Predators, who efficiently disposed of the Detroit Red Wings in five games.
The Predators entered the post-season at a crossroads - an elite team with Stanley Cup aspirations, but also a franchise in a non-traditional hockey market with their future clouded by the uncertain status of the defencemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.
Suter is eligible for unrestricted free agency (UFA) on July 1 and could walk away from the Predators with Nashville receiving nothing in return. Weber can become a UFA next summer.
Just like that, the Predators could lose their linchpin defenders and the longtime backbone of their team.
So, the Predators decided to go for it. They loaded up at the trade deadline and they also welcomed back Alexander Radulov in the final weeks of the regular season, after he had left the team four years ago for big money in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.
In doing so, Nashville hoped to show Suter and Weber they were serious about building a championship-calibre team, and that would help the two stalwarts feel a few extra pangs of loyalty and re-sign when the time came.
In the meantime, though, it is looking like the Predators have a great chance at making the most compelling argument of all - surely a cup would be more than enough to lure Suter and Weber into returning.
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